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Jenny Morse

Jenny Morse will soon earn her PhD, having successfully jumped through the requisite hoops despite her shaky coordination. Seriously, on her 5th grade gym report card her evaluation for “hand/eye coordination” was marked “Not Applicable.” Despite this lamentable physical condition, she has managed to visit 5 continents and 47 states. She will reach Oregon, Washington and Alaska to complete the collection this June, so that should be a fun trip.

At least they didn’t call me Gordita

The first time I heard my name, two men called out:
Rubia, where are you going? Why aren’t you smiling, Rubia?

They saw how blonde fits unnaturally inside these borders.

On another path, men yelled to each other:
Make way for la Rubia!

I speak their language, eat their food, live in their cities,
and remain strange. I am

yellow like old books,
like dried toenails,
like pawns in the landscape;
yellow like the sun against locks,
like split pine,
like a north they’ve never seen.

Bueno, Rubia, would you like some wine?
I remember you, Rubia.
Are you from Argentina, Rubia? That’s where all the Europeans are.
What is America like? Tell me, Rubia.

Four days off the coast

I.

Our pictures show
only grayscale divided
by blonde hair, as if
the wind had
asked for my portrait.

II.

Relieved of monotony
in the Gulf
of Pena, Dramamine-
sedated passengers,
the Swedes from the pink
bus, costumed like
armadillo bandits,
skipped meals they’d
paid for, while we
ate their jello and ran
up stairs
our knees meeting our
chins at the top, arms
out, and the walls
meeting palms at
acute angles.

III.

The brochure portrayed the sea
as adventure,
but the coast is a distant island:
three rocks
swathed in white cotton,
a few birds gray and out
to sea, three
penguins, a seal.

To Julie at Washington Park
After Gonzalo Millán

The stoplights flash their patterns.
Headlights flash shadows.
Two headlights.
Six headlights.
Shadows are the lake’s big sisters.
Relatives of the moon.
The moon makes waves.
Darkness waves in yellows and reds.
The trees are shadows of things like mountains.
The trees are paralyzed giants, stone statues.
The headlights cut down the trees.
Tree cutters cut down dead branches.
They plant grass inside the drip lines.
They follow the stop lights to their side of town.
Lights ripple along the water.
The ducks ripple along the shore.
Their heads tuck under one wing.
Their bodies float in the water.
Their bodies float in the sky.
The park bench is someone’s memory.
All of us will be lost.
Only our names retain us.

[Originally published by The Write Room on Aug. 31, 2012]

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