Hey, I didn’t start out like this.
I enjoyed corned beef sandwiches,
good vodka. It started with sparkle—
one broken splinter in my foot, another in my finger.
Then I lived so far South the only snow
I’d seen was the shedding of magnolia,
a petal coat of white on the ground so thick
you had to kick through it.
I didn’t notice how sounds had dampened,
how the summers with you became intolerable, sticky.
I lay in ice water baths, peeled off blankets,
nightgowns. You always complained
my hands were too cold anyway.
I moved North, started keeping pets with fur.
I enjoyed the way my new stilettos
pierced the fine layer of ice outside my door.
My Southern manners melted in the blank
face of so much snow.
A glassy film grew over my skin, perfecting.
My hair grew lighter without the touch
of sun. I built a palace from the remnants
of our life together—white car doors,
blocks of ice, mirrors, polished surfaces.
I dressed in white satin, white fox.
I carved swans in ice for company. After thirty,
I started wanting one boy after another—
Perhaps their girlfriends’ tiny fists bang
on my palace door. I cannot hear them.
I don’t think of you at all,
here, while my skin grows smoother
each year, while my hands and feet
become idols for the dead.
—Jeannine Hall Gailey
Jeannine Hall Gailey was born at Yale New Haven Hospital in Connecticut, and grew up in Knoxville, Tennessee. She has a B.S. in Biology and an M.A. in English from the University of Cincinnati, as well as an M.F.A. in Creative Writing from Pacific University. Her first book of poetry, Becoming the Villainess, was published by Steel Toe Books in 2006. Poems from the book were featured on NPR’s The Writer’s Almanac and onVerse Daily; two were included in 2007’s The Year’s Best Fantasy and Horror. She recently taught with the Young Artist Project at Centrum. In 2007 she received a Washington State Artist Trust GAP Grant and a Dorothy Sargent Rosenberg Poetry Prize. She volunteers as an editorial consultant for Crab Creek Review, writes book reviews, and teaches at National University’s MFA Program.