The Wardrobe’s Best Dressed: Jennifer S. Cheng’s “Invocation: An Essay”


This selection is from Jennifer S. Cheng’s chapbook, “Invocation: An Essay,” pp. 12-13


The Breadth of an Utterance:

  1. In a house crowded with other people, the night ends with her sitting on the floor in the shadow of a chair, eating slowly with a fork. It has to do with not knowing a way of being, of using language, a rhythm of body, which is to say it begins with uncertainty and ends with something darker.
  2. When you are a child you are instructed to speak with a six-inch voice. This is to control the projection of words—a barrier that encloses your sound.
  3. Eve, who was left with nothing to name and so wandered off alone into the moonless forest: wisps of lead-colored moss.
  4. In a pool that is five feet deep, the water covers my head and I tiptoe-drift in the lukewarm encircling me, sun refracting shapes. I open my mouth, exhaling, vibrating, watching my muted sounds float tensely to the surface in little off spring bubbles.

This selection is from Jennifer S. Cheng’s chapbook Invocation: An Essay, available from New Michigan Press. Purchase your copy here!

Jennifer Cheng received her MFA in Nonfiction from the University of Iowa and her BA from Brown University. She is the recipient of a U.S. Fulbright Fellowship, a Kundiman Fellowship, the Academy of American Poets Harold Taylor Award, and most recently the Mid-American Review Fineline Prize. Her writing appears or is forthcoming in Web Conjunctions, the Collagist, Mid-American Review, Ninth Letter, Quarterly West, Seneca Review, and Fifty-Fifty (an anthology of Hong Kong writing). She lives in San Francisco and can be found at

Meagan Cass is an Assistant Professor of English at the University of Illinois Springfield, where she teaches courses in creative writing, independent publishing, and composition, curates the Shelterbelt reading series, and advises the campus literary journal, the Alchemist Review. Her fiction has appeared in Hayden’s Ferry Review, The Pinch, Hobart Web, PANK, and Puerto del Sol, among other journals. Magic Helicopter Press will publish her first fiction chapbook, Range of Motion, in January 2014. She holds a Ph.D. in English from the University of Louisiana Lafayette and an MFA in fiction from Sarah Lawrence College.


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