Alyssa Jewell

Oil and Pieta
by Alyssa Jewell

I keep my distance from the closets, the picture frames,
never wanted to know their contents yet thought of them: black

and white linens, tin smiles, all the glittered hayfields. We know
each other by the spaces in between the floorboards, reach around

the electrical to touch, and when the cords spark a little, well,
we ask why we even bother. Look at the alternative, I say, peel tinfoil

from the frosting jar, light spiraled candles and float them flickering
downriver. I painted a canvas in gold flecks as a way of talking a little while

about the year, then watched it fall from plaster walls like a tight snap
of the wrist and so hung it again with precision, with all the ginger and sour

these beautiful, cracked fingertips could give, then walked away.
This is how loneliness begins and how we know the hollowness

of the hills, the steel floored grocery stores, shopping carts rolling
toward the curbside, toward skeleton trees that invite us to drift among them,

to move with the emptiness of a hand trying to cup the wind, but instead
I pluck the juniper, prefer pink houses tipping sideways on street corners, families

swinging in doorways, in window frames, pumping their arms and legs
toward cirrus feather skies and a light that slices through the gardens and

laced in rusty vines, the still good grapes for ice wine, the still good grapes
for a still life painted in shadows, painted in oil, in yellow and green and

The best way to know a subject is to taste it, fall into it headfirst
like Michelangelo sleeping away midnight on marble, knowing it well enough

to retrieve human form out of infatuation and love for proportions of shoulders,
the luminescence of stone turned to cloak but not cloaking the sorrows of the heart:

preservation of the miracle that anyone ever lived through the sham
of here and now and did so with tips of noses, ear lobes, and brows

set bold, palms open in an honesty about want, a lap as a cradle,
as a grave, a gaze fixed on most anyone, never abandoned or shying away.


Published in Cider Press Review, Volume 18, Issue 4.

Alyssa JewellAlyssa Jewell studies poetry at Western Michigan University where she served as assistant editor for New Issues Poetry and Prose and is currently an assistant poetry editor for Third Coast.

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