De/composition By Jay Douglas


I. De(composition)

You are six years old and your great uncle takes you
to a place in the woods past the hanging         grape vines,
past the waterfall that thunders          in your dreams
(like a car crash, like a loose foundation in an earthquake,
like your father’s voice)
past the place where the foxes den (in the spring)
and the bucks scrape the trees with their antlers (in fall)

to a patch of mushrooms sprouting from a rotted log.
Big, beautiful mushrooms.
And the world is still              there
and the birds in the towering
red oak trees are silent
and he tells you it’s a secret, its

a Mystery
and people ask you for years
where it is,                   the secret patch
and you don’t tell them, because he made you promise.

And your third-grade teacher
the tall, handsome one
with the gentle smile
tells you solemnly one morning that
three men can keep a secret
as long as two of them are dead

and now you’re twenty-four
and your uncle is dead
and buried
and you imagine his grave covered
in delicious fungi
and his secret is safe (because you can’t remember
where it is or) if
it ever really was.

II. (De)Composition

This is the shape in my hands
your lover says
as she bullies clay into the shape of a curving pot
delicately, passionately, (almost) violently, fingers
dancing like a spider over web. Stained grey
up to her elbows,         splattered,
a crease of focus on her brow
and you watch

this spinning (almost-made) pot
staring at the place where it emerges/is emergent
from her hands
the way
you used to think
Adam came from God’s
or the earth from Ymir’s bones
or you
from your mother, (screaming, half-               formed)

the aches in your bones
and the kink in your spine
a slip of the finger

it adds character she says
the little imperfections
so you know they were crafted          by hand.

By Jay Douglas


Jay Douglas is an undergraduate senior at Indiana University of Pennsylvania pursuing degrees in Religious Studies and English. When not frantically scribbling poetry, Jay can be found honing Jay’s mad yo-yo and kendama skills, reading queer theory, or listening to music far too loud (or, occasionally, attempting to do all three at once). Jay’s work is previously published in Words Dance.

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