Jen Jabaily-Blackburn

Museum Dream: Fox Fires on New Year’s Eve at the Garment Nettle Tree at Oji

Listen to Jen Jabaily-Blackburn read her piece:

(Hiroshige, from 100 Views of Edo, 1857)

A black-pine torch crackles, heavy
between my teeth.
These were hands I’m running on,

tender & quick under the year’s last
ink-stroked sky.
It ought to feel like punishment,

hunching like this—
under the sharp scents
of slaver & sweat,
when the tree’s black branches quiver,

filling the night with words: the names
of men, whose lives
I must rearrange. When I wake, I wake

to my husband tapping my leg,
as if to say love,
enough with this shit
the taut clockwork

of crying myself awake, & my voice
always slipping around
half-explanations of where I’ve been.

There’s a moon beyond the frame, I tell him,
though it’s more—
its lowness, dangling like a round rabbit,

the warmth of a hundred foxes, each drawn
between a desire to drop
her torch, set off the tindery field & hide

the fat moon in her jaws—
& the bell-clear need
to press on. He sinks
back down to sleep. I give what I can give.


Jen Jabaily-Blackburn lives in the Pioneer Valley of Massachusetts and is an assistant editor for Linebreak. Recent poems appear or are forthcoming in Hayden’s Ferry Review, Sugar House Review and Subtropics.
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    Ernest O. Ògúnyẹmí