Letterform

By Jessica Murray

To drive north, alone, toward the ghost

of the Laurentide Icesheet retreating

through boreal forests, the long miles

spending themselves

without my knowing—I’m looking

for that small collision

between molecules that causes


a change in direction. Dear friends, I’m worried

cruelty has become

our primary interface with clarity. Even last night

at the bar, poems hung up in the dank air,

laundry that will never dry.

In the poet’s j’accuse, je m’accuse, the language

went on dreaming.


I understand her avowal: to have one thing,

she must keep giving something else away.

One summer, I played a record until the needle broke.

Suddenly, news of Patriot Missiles, chemical weapons,

a friend’s statistical mistake.

Every night, a boy I wasn’t really sleeping with

called while laugh tracks kept the hours.


Then, was it still possible for things to be done,

and sometimes undone, unseen?

In the museum of the future, is today’s day and age already

a marvel of cautionary pain?

Are we, too, in the thick of it, taking fun

to new levels, thinking outside

the wooden box?


If force is the thing that turns us into objects,

I have been blunted.

If hope is a signal, at least we are connected

by the density of radio towers. Sometimes, I aspire

to the consciousness of an iPhone, a tablet,

any inanimate object, the conduit we love

though the text diminishes.


Jessica Murray is a poet and educator living in Denton, TX. Recent poems of hers are featured in or forthcoming from Barrow Street, Berkeley Poetry Review, Guide to Kulchur, Memorious, Painted Bride Quarterly, Shenandoah, Sixth Finch, and Ghost Fishing: An Eco-Justice Poetry Anthology. Her website, www.if-you-want-to.com, features linked interviews with contemporary women poets.