As Us

A Space for Writers of the World

Jessica Lanay – Poetry


Nel talking to Sula

When you returned
with thundering wings
and black holes for feet
and sex,
just everything –
sucked up into you,
the lips of your pores
pushed up baby’s breath
and the bottom lay –
plain –
like open legs,
mouths dry with
what they will never know,

My grave will be marked
unknown infant, you
died with your jaw open, while
I never learned how to be hungry,
your hunger is a murderer,
Sula, and in that way –
it don’t have to apologize,

Everything washes up
dead, in you,
curiosity can’t kill a
black cat in the dark, every
one is cleaned with you –
plucked clean and

It is a curse to smell
like the wide world –
you walk too much like her,
your black ass provin’ the
world is round,

But we keep our mouths stuffed
with nettle and sage, let you
take, because you know
too many of our secrets,
when you
returned, you sopped us up,
with what came with you.



Jessica Lanay is a poet and short fiction writer currently living in the Bronx and working at a magazine for writers in Manhattan. She is originally from Key West, Florida and was raised there and in Macon, Georgia which she also considers home. Her poetry and short fiction consider physical and conceptual violence, emotional and mental immigrations within the self, and the life and language of women. Her work can be found thus far in Blackberry: a magazine and Linden Avenue Journal; more work is forthcoming in Minerva Rising, Sugar House Review, and Kweli Journal. She is thrilled to have her work in As/Us.

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