Advised to Keep a Journal During Lockdown, I Pretend I Am in Pompeii
and hold a glass
to the wall of the world
hissing with a language
invented each day
seeps into my ear
is mine to lionize
in this chamber
to petrify in amber
for future generations
to interpret after prolonged
It does not matter anymore
what has been said of destinies
lined up in columns and saved
like linens in bridal chests.
I have become a painted fence
harried by a mastiff, a wagon
hitched to a willful horse. A stone
roiled in white water, I am no
longer in the position to be so strong
in the world. The pattern is set for a life
in the back of the house, where I am
forever the butt of an immortal joke.
Jen Karetnick is the author of ten poetry collections, including the forthcoming full-length books, The Burning Where Breath Used to Be (David Robert Books, August 2020) and Hunger Until It’s Pain (Salmon Poetry, 2023). The co-founder of SWWIM Every Day, she has work recently in Barrow Street, december, Michigan Quarterly Review, Poet Lore, Tampa Review, Terrain, Under a Warm Green Linden, and elsewhere. Find her on Twitter @Kavetchnik and on Instagram @JenKaretnick.