White Whale Review: An Online Literary Magazine Untitled Document
Jessica Harkins
Jessica Harkin’s work has appeared in Stand and Agenda (UK), Drunken Boat, Studio One, Baybury Review, Redactions (US), and ARS Interpres (Sweden). She was awarded the Norma Lowry Prize in Poetry at Washington University in St. Louis, and second place prizes from the Academy of American Poets and from the Walter and Nancy Kidd Prize at the University of Oregon, judged by Dave Smith. She earned an MFA in poetry and a Ph.D. in medieval literature at Washington University in St. Louis and is currently an Assistant Professor of English at the College of St. Benedict/St. John’s University.
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Jessica Harkins

Diptych: the Garden

             —in memoriam, D.F.




Under water, lentil shells burst open

and slip free, floating to the top of the bowl.

Their sunken heads, denuded, shine.


The sauté’s lid rests on a tile: in fresh oil

onions glisten beside kale leaves,

steam wavers, fleeing in wisps, and loosened, small


bits of skin shrivel among the garlic cloves.

I had peeled the bulbs, but the husks linger,

a slender bark to dig from our tongues.


Faint reproaches pull me to their mirror;

the labor recalls a harvest.

Against the glass and wood, and the darkened air,


my throat closes: I do not eat.

On walks I imagine someone sitting

behind the stone walls; if I could be quiet


Jessica Harkins

enough to hear the voice leaking

through, then shapes of narcissus or zinnia—

sheaves loosely tied or stems in a painting—


might fall across the steps of our tympana.

Within the house I am recast:

my hands, holding fruit, are nerveless and white.





What disturbed us:

fleshiness around the pit,

swelling in the stem,

a clump of bulbs

dropped into earth.


A stain opens

in the loose soil,

sinks, and brings the dead

mass to life: convulsed, branching,

a heart gone mad.




Jessica Harkins

It is no wonder I stop

eating when they

find you dead: shot

in your car, they said,

a suicide.


You crouched with me

to look for sprouts

in the fresh, muddy furrows:

green rings of stem

pressed upwards, broke;


you saw you had

no part in it,

refused to weed the rows;

we took corn husks once

to our black-tongued, bony cows.


Though at the table

he glowered at

both of us, inflamed with rage,

for laughing out

during a meal—



Jessica Harkins

the plate of zucchini, beans

and tomatoes

swallowed as we joked

at how we chewed:

suffused, shaking.























Copyright © Jessica Harkins. White Whale Review, issue 2.2

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