You look at me
as if I should apologize
for the width of my existence.
If my circumference
bothers your tiny mind:
You see the weight I carry
but not the burdens I shoulder.
My father’s grief.
The tears of my sisters.
You should look at me and think
Giant shield-bearer to life.
Author's Commentary: I wrote this poem for my mother. I wanted to give a voice to her ferocious inner strength.
I HAD TO WASH MY HANDS
You wanted a hog-tied love
that left me little room for breathing.
I walked barefoot on eggshells
and remembered not to say things.
You cut the teeth of our house keys
on the parts of my soul
that I was brave enough to share.
I spent the wealth of myself
on our time together
and you called it poverty.
Author's Commentary: When I left my marriage, I felt like it was something I wasn’t supposed to survive. Writing has been the only way for me to be honest with myself.
Additional Note: My poems tend to be short (or you could say “condensed”) because I worked as a live TV news producer for seven years and always had to be conscious of how long it would take my anchor to read a story. So it feels weird for me to write anything that would take longer than 45 seconds for someone to read.
Jessica Long was born in Florida but grew up in Montgomery County, Virginia. At Emory & Henry College, she earned degrees in English Literature and Mass Communication. Jessica lives in Radford and is a huge fan of her two nieces (Riley & Colbie), K-dramas, animals and dad jokes.