by Jessica Pierce

Effulgent in my industry, I make
long lists of what I will write—
a poem for the lost girl found
by a man quoting scripture. An ode
to the egg-bearing spider that's taken
over the corner of our cheap, yellowed
plastic shower. The ice-bound whiskey
discovered at the South Pole, left
by Scott's failed expedition and still
drinkable. Babies learn language
in epiphanies, Sjogren's syndrome
leaves sufferers unable to cry, police
train corpse-seeking vultures, somewhere
I found the phrase the impertinent pastries and men
and streets of Paris. I diligently research.
For the man seeking the child, I find, “Hope
deferred makes the heart sick, but a desire
fulfilled is a tree of life,” or “Do not
close your ear to my cry for help, but give
me relief.” While gently choking steam
builds in the shower, I ponder the objective correlative
of my house spider, how she continues
to find strong silk in her body. Then I become
distracted by the details of Scott's failure.
Pack ice trapped his ship. They used
ponies completely unfit for the Antarctic
winter. The Norwegian expedition
beat them by five weeks, and Scott
wrote, “All the day dreams must go...
Great God! This is an awful place.”
I skip ahead to the last days in
the tent, snow blind, frostbitten,
writing in his diary until the very
end. “We took risks, we knew we took
them; things have come out against us, and therefore
we have no course for complaint, but bow
to the will of Providence, determined still to do
our best to the last.” So I leave him, retreat
to the warmth of my home on a rain-shushed day. My child,
my greatest risk, lives out the conclusion of scientific
study by polishing words like elbow and strawberry,
conjured and serendipitous. I try
to track how often I cry to consider what
it would feel like to have my throat swell but my eyes
remain dry. The story of carrion birds
searching for victims of foul play provides
such a test as I watch my daughter negotiate
the world with her small, sturdy body. I swoop
her up in my arms despite her struggles, already!,
to fling herself beyond my gravitational
pull. Laundry sprawls, fruit flies spin,
and I find all I want to do is write,
without any irony, a love letter
beckoning her someday-self to imagine
climbing the Eiffel Tower or some other
beautifully tall building with hopes
for sweet discovery at the top.

Illya's Honey Literary Journal

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