Jean Rhys- John Biscello

You held the islands in your eyes, where it rained

and rained and then the sun warmed wet to a wafting hiss.

This Jean, you, the feline slink,

filigreed shock, and sinewy comb

of whitelaced waves

ruffling upon

puttied blobs of shore.

Heartsore eyes,

you looked out

when no one was looking,

when the judges had lost sight of you,

and then, daring glee, you’d dive

into the smallest kingdom,

of mudpies and sandcastles,

seafizz kissing the wiggling halfmoons of fresh pink toes,

and you’d laugh and laugh, nymph of the sea,

begging its inheritance and claim

with the involuntary desperation of the meek.

Yet the islands, at the mercy of memory-tides,

flooded regularly, and you, rag doll corseted to a raft,

were carried back back back—

the shabby hotel rooms with vicious mirrors,

brightly lit cafes with trained voices

faring your terrors,

and your heart, o your poor heart,

a ruptured cadenza

consummating tender relations

with all the wrong men,

and out of its brokeneness

flowed the sap and resin

of nursery school blues—

I didn’t know

I didn’t know

I didn’t know.

There was the bottle, gauzy fretted palls,

the milkfingering of wind.

There was also ribbed fringes of prose,

and that was where we found you,

alone, the barest treble,

shipwrecked on a distant island

that was mostly made of mist, and nostalgia, scabbed.

You held the islands in your eyes, Jean, where gashes

came to know the sea’s suture and rhyme, its flicking bluegreen tongues

as balm and frolic upon

the smallest kingdom


to grace.

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