Jessica D. Hand

Jessica D. Hand
Jessica D. Hand has been published in the Minnesota Review and Redactions, among others. She won first place in the 2008 Agnes Scott Poetry Competition, judged by Martín Espada. Her wife, flutist Jeana Melilli, wrote and performed the accompanying music.

The Beaten Dust Crowds The Light

In the valley of junked cars
                                            Terra crouches
between rows of dead voices
                                               naming the morning-glories
twisting over rusted frames.

The metal's sinking back into
                                               the hills. Her cracked hands open
into canyons and she's looking
                                                 for something pretty
to muffle her mother's sobs.

History gashes her bones; she knows
                                                            bones are not empty
something spongy fills the hollow.
                                                        Beneath her hands lantern mushrooms
expand and breathe. Her brain
                                              and the mushrooms are wet and creased and brilliant.
                                  Something sparks.

Because her father's greased hands clang
                                                                 inside car hoods and against her

mother's belled face     
                                she believes they are metal. She understands
metal understands stone
                                       but not
water's slow artistry.

Her earth-caked hands splinter
                                                 silhouettes of her ancestors.
A worm stiffens in the dirt
                                           two hand-lengths away from damp leaves.
She thinks of her vocal chords.
                                                  It's too dry despite the leaves and mushrooms.
Nothing pretty grows well.

Tires break into black dust.
                                            When dusk breaks
blackness out of day, her mother calls
from behind porch-light and the blood-rust smell
of the screen door. She dirties the air with dust
as she drags her feet toward what's in the house,
as the porch-light dims with moth-wings
leaving darkness on the bare bulb.