In the Juniper Trees

a poem by Jessi Harrison


You’re the front row of a blues club at seventeen.
No door guy, no ID.
(No idea).
You’re the inertia from the spark of the match
that catalytically burned your lover’s mind
from the inside. The catastrophe of silence.
The wallowed brilliance of frozen speech.
You’re the initial let down, the final farewell.
The end scene with no credit roll. A one way ticket
bought with a stolen card. Shallow hands, heavy
shoulders, stitched heart.

A sympathy letter addressed to the symphony of de-
cline.

The dirt pile under fingernails from the shovel of a
sister’s grave.
The solemn laugh echoed through hospital halls.
The blue peeling paint – the fake promise of “okay.”
The fallacy of normality under fluorescent lights.
I see you in open doorways, speaking metaphors of
trapped
passage. You walk, pale & white & out of focus –
still beautiful,
through the gray of winter. You talk of spring.
You tell me how fresh the flowers smell – how there
are so many dandelion fields begging
for a wish. How you’ve waited so long just to feel the
grass under your bare
feet – to feel your skirt dancing with the wind. & you
explain, slowly & labored & surprised, just
how grateful you are, to have finally found some sun.

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