Jessica Lee McMillan: Two Poems

The Body Is a Fantastical Story
For Jeanette Winterson

The stained patch on my arm is a cipher where the Author left a clue, 
a grafted map of stories to traverse with volumes of tales inside:
my body, the moving house.

The Author binds worlds like appendages, 
makes wormholes in spacetime, collapsing centuries 
and ontological divides, constructing floorless houses
and cities with floating words with people of joint desire
both to leave and to remain.

She stitches words in myriad fixtures with silk ropes, jute 
and fishing wire; with the bible and fairytales re-inscribed
and so I began traversing with her eyes.

I took my first steps, leg after leg, could only see one mountain 
then got lost in a range, amazed in overwhelmed stupor, 
a warp of years unnarrated running late with time, slumped 
in a pile, awaiting reanimation.

The valley is a grave when legs can’t decide.

Being a nomad is a logistic of writing new maps
finding space in the mass, the lightness in the weight,
the web in the lines, all manifold journeys in the legs.

In the room with no floors or the valley — just the same — I forgot 
the trick of writing possibility.
The baseline called reality —a story constantly revised— is a route 
between lines, a truth in disappearing ink.

This body is a nomad in place, translating seams of many planes
in skin of imagination.

My transplant body of silvery scars and geographical marks, 
is the double-edge of adventuring where home no longer makes sense.

And this was how she wanted it, the journey I am taking:
through wormholes, never whole, being that we are never-ending stories
—limbs, starting with my right arm, my fingers sewn of text.

The body is a fantastical story, always going, always remaining
in sutured paper and cartographical skin rewriting the imagination 
in the contours of place.


Steep your Verse

Drink your tea slowly and reverently, as if it is the axis on which the world earth revolves — slowly, evenly, without rushing toward the future. ~Thich Nhat Hanh

1) Wait until the water is at the edge of boiling.
Do not micromanage every degree. Scalding the pot does not allow residues and ambient temperatures to nuance the infusion.

2) Pour over the loose leaves, like verse spilling into form, blooming the mouth in red hibiscus, taut and tan oolong, and rolling green.

3) If you are at a loss for words, smell the polyphenol steam until you are back in your bones.
Steep in your stream of consciousness. Watch the leaves unfurl, extracting the remains of the sun. 

4) Nurture your cup with time to breathe. 
For goodness sake, don’t punch it before it is ready to release. Allow the lazy tea of summer fruit its tepid pace before shocking over ice.

5) Strain your infusion but allow some granular texture to settle where it may.

6) Taste your tea before adding anything. Add sweetener or milk as needed. Black is for the renegades, honey is for the mystics, sugar is for rock and rollers, jacked on expletives and grit, and milk is the for idealists who take the world tempered to their mouthfeel.

7) Drink for general stimulation, for medicine, for transformation. Use for divination when appropriate.

Jessica Lee McMillan

Riddled with Arrows 5.2: “Spotlight 2022”
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