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Jessica Purdy

The Wick Will Never Go Out

His wife has died and we

are workshopping his poems.

Outside, the night air is sparks

and ash falling as if the house

is turning through the stars

of an orange and red galaxy.

I think about how the ashes

are his wife’s body cremated

and on fire falling all around us

as we remember her through his words.

He says he has buried his anxiety

under the dirt, and then at our feet

a small tree appears, fully formed and bright

with yellow leaves, a kind of bonsai maple.

It took root and transformed,

grew into a calm burning flame.

Ode to the Burned Match
-after a Claes Oldenburg Shelf

You just gave me the sharp bite

of sulphur smell shocking

my nose for a millisecond,

then I lit the candles which kept your fire alight.

Don’t worry match, I loved you

then and I love you still, the way you

make that tst sound when I douse

you under the faucet. Though you’re

blackened and bent over now,

charred beyond salvage, your charcoal

could mark my eyelids with outline.

A coal kohl so close to breaking

you remind me of myself when

no one will keep my flame lit

and I go to bed sad, hang

my head like yours, close my eyelids

over the flames of my eyes

that refuse to go out even when I dream

of you striking against the side

of the box:  sparking, and sizzling back to life.

Jessica Purdy has lived in New England all her life. Having majored in both English and Studio Art at UNH, she feels drawn to the visual in both art and poetry. She holds an MFA in Creative Writing with a concentration in Poetry from Emerson College. She has worked as an art teacher and a writing teacher. Currently, she teaches Poetry Workshops and Creative Writing at Southern New Hampshire University. In 2015, she was a featured reader at the Abroad Writers’ Conference in Dublin, Ireland. Her poems have been nominated for Best New Poets and Best of the Net. Her poems and reviews have appeared in many journals and anthologies, including gravel, The Plath Poetry Project, The Ekphrastic Review, The Light Ekphrastic, SurVision, The Wild Word, isacoustic, Nixes Mate Review, Bluestem Magazine, The Telephone Game, The Tower Journal, and The Cafe Review, among others. Anthologies include Except for Love: New England Poets Inspired by Donald Hall, Nancy Drew Anthology, and Lunation. Her chapbook, Learning the Names, was published in 2015 by Finishing Line Press. Her books STARLAND and Sleep in a Strange House were both released by Nixes Mate Books consecutively, in 2017 and 2018. She is the 2019 Esther Buffler Poet-in-Residence at Portsmouth High School in New Hampshire.

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