Self-Portrait In Small-Town Summer by Jessica Kim



Self-Portrait in Small-Town Summer

In this body I wake up in a house with everyone I love

gone. With the crippled lightbulbs & gypsy moths

that defoliate the trees outside. They are reckless but

leave nothing. No imprint of a corpse. In this

new town I find history engraved on yard signs,

discover fossils disguised as fences: warning, do not

enter. July moves in next door but the house remains

empty & maybe they live alone too. Sunlight only

reflected across the windows, glassy-eyed. Once,

I saw a woman dressed in moss. She caught me

staring & she hid the moon behind the television set

as a reminder that today will never end. The next

day she boarded up the front door and draped curtains

around the windows & called it a dollhouse, dust

bunnies & plastic children occasionally falling asleep

on the front lawn. The world spins on the axis of

heritage & I trace over their figures in broad daylight.

They are only the inhabitants of stories passed on

by word of mouth & they turn into monograms

in grayscale. They fade away from the family portrait

that hangs in the foyer & the sun drains the color

from their faces, now bleached in nothing. There is

something beautiful about the faces I don’t recognize,

bodies floating in a summer’s dreams, weightless.



Jessica Kim


Jessica Kim is a writer based in California with works appearing or forthcoming in Cosmonauts Avenue, Glass: A Journal of Poetry, Semicolon Lit, and more. Her poems have recently been recognized by the National Poetry Quarterly and Pulitzer Center. She loves all things historical and sour.