Jessica Pierce

Witness


I.

One dunlin afternoon,
his past was there.

One backlit afternoon,
his past, shy 

but anguished, was there. 
One finely wrought

afternoon, his past stood
there,  
 
edges furnaced, 
hemmed in burning.

One afternoon,
his past, helpless

for oxygen, sucked the air 
thin and stood there, 

burning. One diminishing 
afternoon, his past,   

bewildered, was there,
burning, but didn't 

ask for relief. Could 
he just keep walking?     

He closed his eyes, tried to 
see the madonna


II.

He closed his eyes, tried to
release the madonna to cool 

that heat, to make it bearable.  
To tell him: I
 
didn't fear the angel. 
I didn't fear the bold 

trumpets, touch on my lips.
I wasn't afraid, no

I wasn't, no.
I didn't fear my heavy body.

The other women told
me I'd bleed.

I didn't fear my body, bleeding.
I didn't fear the waiting 

angel.  Don't 
fear this sad, 

mangled past.  All it wants 
you to do is say yes.  


III.

All it wants 
you to do is open your eyes

and say yes.  All 
it wants you to do

is stand still.  Share a breath.
All it wants you

to do is breathe, 
unclench your fists 

and say yes.

I know you.

—Jessica Pierce

Published in the Northwest Review, Volume 45, Number 1.

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