small textlarge text

Jessica Purdy

As Ann Darrow

Download MP3

Too many hanging grapes
and gauzy dresses kept me
admiring my own face
in the mirror. I was so small
I could be pocketed. Palmed.
Belly poked. Pout and smile

paint and highlight. What did
men want from me? I gave
and gave. Never knowing
the pedestal’s chains held
my wrists so tightly
I wanted more. What animals

men are. Sniffing around my neck
inside my eardrums.
I’d withstand drips of saliva
to have them worship me.
Nevermind their faces were giant
and pockmarked. Fingertips

as big as my abdomen. Reeking
of whatever they were drinking
I’d lay my ear against their chests
to hear the speed of their blood.
As if maybe I’d hear the monster in them dying.
As if maybe that would show I’d cared.

One Hundred Percent Effaced

Download MP3

after Plath’s “The Detective”

Are you children with me?
My wheat smell. My eye shape.
I’ve noticed false teeth in a voice.

Do you know today I said
Sorry babies to the birds. Saw
a hand-sized hyacinth as evidence of a slap.

Vacationed in anger. Lusted after
myself. Hidden my knees. Stalked
the grass for mushrooms and frogs. Fingered

dewy plastic toys in the dirt. Doll parts and mother-
of-pearl grips. Whatever was forgotten from my
childhood. Puckered my lips to fill

my stomach now effaced as an empty thrift store purse.
Crepe paper clutch. Deflated balloon. Rubber skin
a mask I smiled. I tucked my fears

into your cribs and ran fast
up the stairs. Worried my forehead

full of gunshots. Bodies who’ve called to come identify.
Can you ever know me now I’m gone?

Download MP3

Against Regret

“The moon has nothing to be sad about,/Staring from her hood of bone.//She is used to this sort of thing./Her blacks crackle and drag.”
—Sylvia Plath

In case of emergency, give a perfunctory nod. Yes,
there is nothing to be sad about. Walk the line
between horizon and telephone wire. Resemble
a traveling figure from antiquity. Mercury
in cracked leather pausing to wash his face in a creek.
Become smaller than you were once. Seen
from far away. The distance of water spans
your selves. Oh, your hood covers your greasy hair
like a snood. Your hair itches and tangles
in the birches. You’re not fleeing. No pursuits.
You’d think the weights you carry would break you,
but you’ll die putting on socks and new sweaters.
You’ve made the mistakes of your father.
Against regret. Snows are heavier wet. When
the landscape’s black and white snatches color
it is the sky that comes back to rescue you.
You’ll be buried under your quilt as if it is dirt
and the sun will resurrect what yellows you crave.

➥ Bio