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Jennifer Wallace

   

        I wanted to change my name, find a remote island

 
off the Newfoundland coast. The only way to get there would be by boat,
             and only I would send it and only on occasion. I’d be a friend
of gannets. Emerson’s newest protégé.

             Time would exist as it should: tidal and thick as a forest.
I’d be historical. A spinster on a bright day clipping asters outside
             a clapboard shed, my graying hair wild with wind. In November,
I’d split wood and welcome the kid from town who’d deliver my mail.
             I’d catch my fish. I’d be a kingdom, an ecology.

             How could I have known that my arrival would build itself
on contradiction. Instead of ocean: murder; exhaust, not flowers.
             In this metropolis: all the homes with the name “Stranger”
carved on their doors.

             There is a grammar etched in the mind’s bone. A topography
that can be counted on. It might erode—with time and weather—but beauty
             and ugliness run in its gullies. With more or less volume. At will, if willed.

  

Listen to Jennifer Wallace read "I wanted to change my name...:"
 

  

  

From Within

 
From within the egg
From within the egg of the world
From within the egg of the world I pierce the shell,
then I see the face of necessity . . . .

Palm pressed
from within the chalky shell
from within:
             the faintest field of weakness,
             the inevitable peck, peck, peck
             and then the light, the bewildering light.

  

Listen to Jennifer Wallace read "From Within:"
 

  

    

Jennifer Wallace teaches at the Maryland Institute College of Art in Baltimore. She is a poetry editor at The Cortland Review and a founding editor of Toadlily Press. Her chapbook, Minor Heaven, appears in Desire Path (Toadlily Press, 2005). A new book of poems and photographs, It Can Be Solved by Walking, is forthcoming from City Lit Press in 2012.
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