Comfortable,  Jihyea Jang

By the time we’d uncovered the whalebone our legs were already thorned

dusted, turning indigo with evening. 

The afternoon spent running through the eucalyptus 

that hung in the windless air. 

Your hands were still balmed with sagebrush, still stained 

by the sea-figs we’d opened too early

when you asked me what it meant to be kept.

What it meant to be corked, to be pressed 

to be hung at the window. 

When we met, you told me 

about the river in your neighborhood. 

How you’d jump from the moss-covered cliffs into that water,

that someday you’d live off those pearlblack 

brambles by the fork, said 

Wouldn’t you give everything 

for a life so clean and right?

I remember those dreams, those nights spent

in the halo of a pullstring lampshade

your hands around the guitar, closing your eyes in the almostlight

where I’m sitting at the edge of the sofa 

holding my breath, counting the pinecones and snailshells 

on my dresser, imagining a symmetry to the world

where I am without things, window-struck 

with that heartache for groves and riverbeds.

So I’m holding one end of the whalebone

and you’re holding the other. 

Me, as if clinging to it, that stretch of white 

between you and me and a few months of uncertainty. 

You ask me what’s keeping us from casting it back to the sea,

this animal thing, brined and sunburned brown.

And for a moment I see you in the river 

immaculate, juned

all your keepings strewn at the edge of the water, looking

at me, waiting to let go.

About the Author
Jennifer Woolard · University of California

Jennifer Woolard is a senior at the University of California, Santa Barbara studying writing and literature. She focuses on poetry and prose poetry emphasizing themes of nature, consciousness, surreal experience, and the human condition. She is also a visual artist and hoping in the future to pursue a freelance career in creative writing. Whalebone previously appeared in Mochila Review

About the Artist

Jihyea Jang · University of Minnesota

Jihyea Jang is a South Korean contemporary artist based in Minneapolis and a recent graduate of the University of Minnesota with a BA in Art. This piece first appeared in Mochila Review. 

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