Jessica Cogar is a master’s student at Ohio University, where she teaches first-year composition. Her work is featured in Switchback, Unbroken, small po[r]tions, and elsewhere and is forthcoming in the Santa Ana River Review.
Perhaps, like a jungle bat, she was born into the hollowness of a bamboo stem, as a note no larger than a paperclip. But it is hard for me to imagine her this way, folded and content. The woman sits, taps her fingernails against the dashboard. And the woman read all the letters, promised gentleness, soft light. And the woman misunderstands me, but I climb inside her empty glass anyway, murmuring, “that’s not what I meant.” She lies back, looks into the light and then me. “Tell me more,” she says. The sun is a summer star that cannot be buried. It can be carried long distances. Its light can be swallowed. She asks to where, by whom. The air is acting like water, turning my breath against me. “Toward the horizon, by the wolf’s jaws.” The answer seems to satisfy her, but I know better. She rises from the passenger seat, checks the status of her lipstick against a dimming, shadowless light.
The Giving of Violets
In the chemistry of the dawn, the shadow of the orchard welcomes me with a fast, blue love—a visitor with an open jacket. She pinches salt into the well and listens, unsatisfied. Because what does not reflect light renders itself invisible, what fights the impulse to end the listener remains unseen—or was never there, at all.
A wreath fashioned from uprooted violets is given with instructions. To thin the numbers, find the plume. To respond, make song with throat, with needle. The woven petals against her skin become as vivid as bandages. She strikes a match against her wrist and brings the flame to her lips. The air around her rings for me, but she is no door.
The Silent Woman
The language of the birds came without titles. It came without signifier, without value, without abandon. Inflection rose from the bottom of a white cup, from two throats at once. This memory is an echo that sings alone, asks me the difference between rip current and undertow. My tongue finds the answer on woman’s jawline—then loses it. I am drawn by my hair through a dauntless and resolute door in the sun.
On the other side, a bird sits in the crook of a tree branch and repeats its own name. I smash ripe figs into the concrete wall, and I ask the bird who let us turn nouns into verbs and further, who showed us how fragile it all is? A request of no one in particular: will you read this? A turn of the wrist towards the soiled wall—to direct the eye. I am a master at sleight of hand but a novice in speech—my mouth aches as a bird’s aches for the honey of a spring thaw.