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/jessica dionne

The Woman Next Door

The white mill houses in NoDa were close enough to kiss, tiny yards with a patch of scrubgrass or a flowering tree—no room for both. I watched her most nights through gauzy curtains.

How she pressed the ice to her neck in the heft of July. How she arched her back when he touched her. How she called out, wild, in the middle of the night. Sometimes I answered.

By winter her silhouette began to swell, she stood in the kitchen, hands cupping possibility, swaying in front of the spice rack. My eyes escorted her around the room, haunted by how the light could catch the wisp of her wrist as she rubbed circles around that entire world.

I traced her outline with a pointer finger, each bend and bow so full—her shadow a swarming hive.

In bed that night I named each bee.

Please Use Your Inside Voice

Even when you’re screaming

about the day old milk crusting around the edges

I’m crusting on the edges please consider how life imitates art imitates whatever is blooming blissful on the back shelf.

This is how a fruiting body withers, please bring me my robe when you come back from whatever room you’re hiding in.

The mice are hiding too, in holes with little doors, their little hands too slight to slam

them shut when they find no crumbs in the sectional.

Please don’t look at my pores—

growing larger with each news cycle indecent sheen slicks my forehead from lack of.

And these legs have grown long, long as my memory—thoughts of what the grass looks like outside my own head.

Shadows take shape on the hardwoods, compete with daily streaming, fight for attentions shorter than an internet apology and when they bow, all I see is static. Please.

Jessica Dionne is a poet from North Carolina. She is a PhD student at GSU, and she received her MFA in Poetry from NC State and her MA in Literature from UNCC. She won a 2020 International Merit Award from the Atlanta Review, and she was the runner-up in Meridian‘s 2021 Editors’ Prize, and a finalist in Arts and Letters‘ 2020 Poetry Prize, Iron Horse Literary Magazine‘s 2020 contest, and Narrative‘s 2019 30 Below contest. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Hunger Mountain, Raleigh Review, Lucky Jefferson, Iron Horse, Narrative, Stoneboat, SWWIM, Rust + Moth, Banshee (IE), Mascara Literary Review (AU), and JMWW.

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