Poetry: Abriana Jetté

Abriana Jetté (Poetry 2012) is the editor of the #1 best selling anthology in Women’s Poetry, 50 Whispers: Poems by Extraordinary Women. Her work has been featured in River Teeth, The Moth, Plume, Equallywed.com, and many other places. She lives in Brooklyn, where she teaches for St. John’s University and for the City University of New York.  For more, please visit abrianajette.com. 


It was the butcher who got me
thinking, after he kissed mom
           on the cheek,

about the women who warned
our grandmothers a bird flying
          through the house

meant death, who couldn’t afford
bassinets so their children slept
          in dresser drawers,

who brought to this borough
shoe-boxes filled with recipes,
          warm spit to wipe

dirt from my face or cold
from my nose, about what
          it is going to be like

when they’re gone.
Dressed in a thick pink
          stitched skirt-set,

the deceased rests, rosary
beading through wrinkled
          fingers, chain

of cultured pearls curled
around her neck. Her friends
          sit quiet in the corner

of the parlor, hair sprayed
in place, waiting for the Lord
          them too to take.

“The Women” was originally published in The Manila Envelope.


Day drags between stops. Doors
ajar; gray shoes. Shut: black
suits. Lost sight of afternoon sun.
Eyes heavy already from what I’ve done.

Rest. The hour ride to Queens. Rattle
of the train’s wheels. And out of all the places,
he sits next to me in the two-person corner seat.
I’m layered with stockings, socks, a dress,

a sweater and a scarf, coughing up a lung
(or rather the water trapped in them), two
purses as pillows, curls undone.
Large man. Light blue jeans.

No jacket, so he crosses his arms.
My eyes fall within seconds of him sitting down,
a half way trance: one can never trust
to let go of control on the train, too much

risk. Fifteen minutes. Eyes open.
He, too, sleeps. His head bows
to the right. My legs cross to the left.
Eyes close again. Doors open with each stop.

Gray and black. Minutes pass. We listen.
His blue jeans. This trust. Together,
in the corner of the train on the way
to Queens, this man and I sleep.

“Commute” was originally published in Poetry Quarterly.