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

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 completed her MFA at Columbia University and her MA at the University of Alberta. She is the author of the poetry collection "Songs from an Apartment," the chapbook "Memory Project" and her translations from the Ukrainian have been published in Poetry International, Poetry International Web, Chelsea, and the Wolf. Her translation with Oksana Lutsyshyna of Artem Chekh’s Absolute Zero was released in 2020 by Glagoslav and her novel Temporary Shelter is forthcoming in 2021 from Cervena Barva Press. Olena's feature articles and book reviews can be found on KGB Bar Lit, Fanzine, and the Millions. She is also the founder and curator of the Poets of Queens reading series.