The Work of the Body - Jill Kelly Koren
Come, Be a Body 

"...poems of so precisely a human scale that they feel spoken quietly by a friend over coffee. Or walking at dusk. Or sitting on the creek's edge. And while that friend yearns for understanding, ultimately it submits to mystery." -- Ross Gay

from the new collection:

          for my mother, Anne Rosemary

Floatwalking home 
early June rain
muskywetearth aroma

voice lost
music-making done but 
music still ringing

in my ears when
a new smell greets my nose
familiar, full, sweet.

Eyes follow scent, up-up
to shiny wet leaves,
full white blossoms.

Hello, Magnolia.

I knew it was you before I saw you,
thought, Maybe Magnolia
recognizes me too.

By my own olfactory 
signature, part smoke-sweat,
part lime-milk?

Or a particular wave of heat?
Perhaps, a secret shimmer 
that only tree can see?

My mother, a lover
of lemon balm, basil,
sweet annie, rosemary,

her fingers crushed
each leaf for me,
releasing a codex

of complex fragrance 
just below my nose.
But not for pleasure alone.

For the knowing, too:
a way to find friends 
in hollowed out spaces.

And now—for her—nothing.
No tang of lemon balm,
no sharp oregano.

No stink of gasoline 
to raise a fumey 
finger of alarm.

If blind, then Braille.
Fingertips would trans-
late dot to thought,

the hill and valley 
of a lover's face
to heft and shadow.

If deaf, hands could sign,
a manual ballet of meaning,
poetry, literally, in motion.

But who can report
on the air, lilac-thick,
and who translate

this language lost:  
smoke, moss, river, pain?
How will we ever know each other 


Cover art by Elizabeth Murphy of Dos Madres Press

To order, visit your local independent bookstore, Dos Madres Press, or contact the author at
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