Three Poems by Jessica Cory


We save them—Pack n Play, fancy
             hiking carrier with removable sunbrella,
                         crunchy mama cloth diaper covers
patterned with leaves and clouds.                    But 

now that closet space is needed for grief. 

Once our bodies achieve greatness, 
we assume they’ll achieve it 
                       again    and    again. 

Biology is a trickster though,
                       the coyote lurking in our marrow,
deciding our fate through slight of hand, or slight of cell. 

The lesson seems to be take nothing for granted,
         but what’s being taken here is creation.

Our instinct is to preserve that 
which has been stolen. Put it in a Mason jar, pickled, immune

         from rot and aging. Store it in a cool and dark place,

high on an empty closet shelf.

Do you hear that? They're replying.

Do you hear that? They’re replying.

He took me out, naked
             the trees stood, erect & bristling 

                          at the January night,
eavesdropping as we communed 

with the owls.                    He taught me the difference 
              between barn & horned,            a screech & a bark. 

Amid benumbed branches, we bloomed
                          that winter with numberless 

              goldenrod eyes looking on. 

Just beyond the hill, forage:

bilberry, borage, wild
yam, bloodroot. Suckle: honey-
suckle, your restless young. Stick: 
            thistles in your patch
pockets til they’re brimming with white
willow bark. Invite: the black 
widow, sewing her eggs near the hen of the woods, 
She’ll teach you to brew 
& spin periwinkle strands that tempt 
both fate & food. Concoct:  
sweetgum balls & fatback from heritage
hogs, magick—
              a meal 
         a memory.

Jessica Cory is a lecturer in the English Department at Western Carolina University and a PhD student in English at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. She is the editor of Mountains Piled upon Mountains: Appalachian Nature Writing in the Anthropocene (WVU Press, 2019). Her scholarly and creative work has appeared in North Carolina Literary Review, A Poetry Congeries, …ellipsis, and other fine journals. Originally from Appalachian Ohio, she now lives in the southern Appalachians, calling the mountains of western North Carolina home.

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