7.06 / June 2012

Two Poems


listen to this poem

I collected everything:
aglets for my shoelaces, jabots for my breasts.
So this is it? I wondered. I stitched myself to windows,
attempted great somethings: a leap, for instance,
between my bedroom and the smooth shuttered garage.

Later, I caught millions of you, pillowed them with cotton balls
in clear glass jars. You were an idea then, an itch
growing in my fractured arm. Cowboy up, you told me –
but even then I was waving my hanky to a slit of light
balanced, barely yellow, on the hulking trees.

Were you never split and spinning as a maple seed?
That winter you killed the beckoned mice. It’ll be a cinch.
Come in, I’d told the vermin, and they’d muffled past our jambs
into those dreamed crevasses, the bends
where thoughts buoyed our lived-in dust. I had an idea
that a house scurrying with quickened life
might taste like sugar and rot our teeth.

We got older. You told me not to yammer, to fold
my uneasiness between gum wrappers, to floss.
That we were docked here indefinitely,
so might as well cobble together a living,
grow fruit, join our ribs. For however long
you’d be here, however broken
these spindles, however did we lose our jacket
that first day, this was the place to be.
Somehow we would make this hinterland our own.
Though falling builds false time, it makes great promises.
And even after quarantines of height,
landing has a welcome certainty.


listen to this poem

We grieve for our whiteness
those plump and baleful limbs
and days when a bed meant
defeat, when an organ
was a many-piped thing,
not clipped while pulsing
in a preordained hand.

When mother squealed, I’ve been made!
and buried her legs in the sand.

Here I am –
a suckled bay, her ripe
plucked husk.

Kate Rutledge Jaffe's creative work has been published in The Believer, Narrative, Caketrain, and others, and was awarded the Fulton Prize in Short Fiction and the Matt Clark Prize in Poetry. She was also an assistant editor of Hope Deferred: Narratives of Zimbabwean Lives (McSweeney's, 2010). Originally from the Pacific Northwest, she now lives in Missoula, MT.
7.06 / June 2012