Jenny Johnson, In Full Velvet (2017)

“Late Bloom” is an excerpt from In Full Velvet, a new collection of poems by Jenny Johnson (poetry, ’11), released on February 17th from Sarabande Books:

 

 

 

Late Bloom

The name of the spotted apple

on the leafy floor in the woods

 

outside the white-walled bedroom

where the FM stereo was always

 

tuned to the same country

station my girl crush loved

 

was gall, name for an outgrowth,

a shell withering under leaf rot

 

near a spot where the surprise lilies

might remember, might

 

forget to bloom. Touch a weevil

and it will fall, legs and antennae tucked.

 

Blink and the artic fox becomes snow.

The gecko, toes spread wide

 

on a tree trunk, passes for lichen.

Of all the ways a creature can conceal itself,

 

I must have relied on denial.

There were the Confederate bumper stickers,

 

pressures from seniors to tail gate,

the spindly legs of a freshman

 

scissoring out of a trash can,

how just the smell of Old Spice

 

could make my muscles contract

like a moth, wings folded

 

the color of a dead leaf in October.

So that she might hear her favorite song

 

my voice would drop, and if the DJ answered

I would be Tim, Charlie, Luke, Jason

 

every name but my own.

Truer than gold.

 

Wasn’t I the stripe in a tiger’s eye?

The dapple in the flanks of an Appaloosa?

 

In daylight, how could I possibly explain:

A heart hunting after a body?

 

… purchase a copy of In Full Velvet here.

This poem originally appeared in Troubling the Line: Trans and Genderqueer Poetry and Poetics, edited by TC Tolbert and Trace Peterson.

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