Jessica Murray

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Jessica Murray

Hour Before Birdsong

The baby, sick, and you ironing your clothes
while the dogs make eyes.
I’m running the shower, I’m leaving
a message, exhausted, thinking of leaving
with the baby, with you, start over, new life.
In the evening, I remember the half-loaf of rye
from the bakery. It’s toasting, now, in the oven,
a creamy, salt-flecked butter softened
all day on the counter.
And who has opened the blinds unthinking,
opened the blinds to the street,
a little darkness,      no birdsong,
     a little light slipping in.


The tenants before us shellacked
black film over the narrow back window.
We can look out, no one sees in.
The cardinal with its dripping oars
rows into the yellow jasmine and out again.
The baby and I are tracing our trapezoid
through the rooms. I am trying to connect
the point where the shape starts
to the precise point where it ends.
May we fall through

Alone, I speak to every vital thing:
hello, squirrel, hello, crow.
Go away, beetle.
Hello, hello to pairs of cardinals, hello, hello.
Sometimes in the afternoon an episode of True Blood,
a little bored with itself and not paying
too much attention, ends with a wooden stake,
a slick of sticky viscera.
Nobody wants to die, not even the detective.
Like a Nauman neon sign, the shorthand blinks
sex     remember     freedom
     enter            danger     pleasure

Jessica Murray reads “Hour Before Birdsong”

Jessica Murray works as an educational media producer in Austin, Texas. Poems of hers can be found in journals such as The Boiler, Memorious, Cherry Tree, Birmingham Poetry Review, and Free State Review. Her first book of poems is forthcoming from Galileo Press in 2022.