Poem of the Week | October 29, 2018

This week we are delighted to present “Relationship,” a new poem by Jessica Lee.

Jessica Lee is an Assistant Poetry Editor for Narrative Magazine. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in BOAAT, cream city review, Diagram, Fugue, Passages North, phoebe, Prairie Schooner, Zone 3, and elsewhere. She was a finalist for the 2017 Greg Grummer Poetry Award and the 2017 So to Speak Poetry Contest. She lives in the Pacific Northwest. Find her online at readjessicalee.com.


its own insect
in flight
now dried & pinned
behind glass
a body for every
stage (the honeymoon,
the reckoning)
each wingspan
adjusted accordingly
possibility of motion
a cape expanding
then closing in.

Author’s Note

Last winter I visited a curiosity shop in Portland that sold animal bones and preserved insects. I stood in front of the display case of framed butterflies for a long, long time. Although I’d seen them before, I’d never really considered the process of their preservation until that moment in Paxton Gate. I’d been spending a lot of time thinking about performativity and romance as the summer’s wedding invitations were piling up in my mailbox. The butterflies below the glass, preserved for safekeeping, spread wide and expertly pinned, became the image I returned to while contemplating marriage—the institution, like a frame—and questions of ownership and permanence.