The Wardrobe’s Best Dressed: Wilderness//Kingdom by Jory Michelson

This selection, chosen by Managing Editor Krista Cox, is from Wilderness//Kingdom by Jory Michelson, released by Floating Bridge Press in 2019. 

Dear Federico

It’s late. I’ve stood for hours
watching swallows strike
and swivel at the insects’
commas. The certain
circling they commit to
feed themselves. We first
acknowledged one another
on the bridge above their frenzy,
in the growing dark. We tethered
together, all pause and follow,
while streetlights burst
amber over tulip poplars
that guide the river’s dark cord.

On the empty steps of my apartment,
you offer me a cigarette, and I take it
simply to touch your hand,
even though I haven’t smoked
in years. Federico, I don’t understand
your poems with their silverlipped
volcanoes and your
obsession with the dangers
of the moon: all salted, all boot
crushed, all clovered in mold.

As if I dreamt the careful linen
of your shirt, the undoing of the black
slick of your hair in the concrete’s shy
heat. I was afraid you’d mistake
my hesitation for the bleeding of juniper
into the air, the long tongue of the sky
refusing, a zipper’s seam split open.

Jory Mickelson is the inaugural winner of the Evergreen Award Tour prize form Floating Bridge Press for their book Wilderness//Kingdom. Their poems have appeared in print and online in Harvard Divinity Bulletin, diode, Jubilat, The Rumpus, Vinyl Poetry, the Mid-American Review, Ninth Letter, and other journals in the US, Canada, and the UK. They were awarded an Academy of American Poets Prize and have received fellowships from the Lambda Literary Foundation and The Helene Wurlitzer Foundation of New Mexico. They hold an MFA in Poetry from the University of Idaho. Originally from Montana, they now live in the Pacific Northwest.

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