about the author

Jessica Levine is a published creative writer and scholar with a PhD in English from the University of California, Berkeley. Her doctoral dissertation was chosen by Routledge to be published in their Outstanding Dissertation Series and came out under the title, Delicate Pursuit: Literary Discretion in Henry James and Edith Wharton (2002). She has also translated three books and numerous articles from French and Italian into English for The MIT Press, assemblage, and representations. Originally from New York City, she currently lives with her husband and their two daughters in the San Francisco Bay Area, where she works as a hypnotherapist. Her stories, poetry, and essays have appeared or are forthcoming in Amarillo Bay, California Quarterly (CQ), The Cape Rock, Edith Wharton Review, Green Hills Literary Lantern, North American Review, Old Red Kimono, Poetry Northwest, RiverSedge, The Southern Review, The Spoon River Poetry Review, and The William Carlos Williams Review.

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Pygmalion, Please

Jessica Levine

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Long obscured, a notebook
mildewed in a bird cage

while I dreamt of a prairie
where elk met and danced

and I, bewitched, listened
to their bugling

the fields were filled
with tiny yellow flowers

and picking them in fantasy
was—for a while—exquisite

until the wasting crusted over me
like skin wanting to be shed

but the layer underneath had
rippled into wrinkles

from triggered nerve endings
and the pores were shut in terror.

That’s why, Pygmalion, I’m on my knees
begging you to peel this molting hide

and with a caress unruffle me
until, bold and naked, I speak.

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