Unraveling

By Olena Jennings

I am dreaming that clothes are coming apart. There is a sudden need for needles and thread. There are buttons on the floor like seashells. We try to make the outdoors in our living rooms. I have a measuring tape around my neck. I have a single pin between my teeth. The outside comes in. I brace myself like for a wave.

everything comes to me in pieces
I put it together
            (the clamoring of the sewing machine)          
            (squinting at the thread to make sure it goes straight into the needle)
            (the vintage fabrics smelling of strange closets)
            (the comfort of the fabric rubbed against my cheek)
            (the metallic flavor of pins)
everything comes to me in pieces
 
from the outside
that has been closed to us
come velvet
            silk
            cotton

I stick my head out the window, wearing fancy dresses

dressed for myself

in this isolation we live for ourselves

we have long conversations with mirrors

the past is almost erased

We forget what it was like to go out. The sun shines more often when I am home. It does so to tempt me. We establish a dialogue, the sun and I. I put out my bare arms.

I ask for the sun to warm me, for a careful caress. I learn to be touched by something so far away. I learn what distance really is.

My friends have also fallen into the landscape of their apartments. We whisper to each other. We stick our ears out the window and attempt to hear a voice.

 

Olena Jennings

Olena Jennings is the author of the poetry collection Songs from an Apartment and the chapbook Memory Project.  Her translation with Oksana Lutsyshyna of Artem Chekh’s Absolute Zero was released in 2020 by Glagoslav. Her novel Temporary Shelter is forthcoming in 2021 from Cervena Barva Press. She is the founder and curator of the Poets of Queens reading series.