More Heat than Light

Jenna Russell


My thumb smooths over his, crushing velvet. A mother pressing a dress. A girl putting petals in the pages of a book.

I reach for his stem to pluck, and the lily of him unfurls in my hand.

This ought to crown me a princess, this bird coming to land on my fingertips, placing a circlet of daisies in my hair
But it doesn’t. His wholesomeness drains me of all my gentility.

You might see a doe and want to break into blossom, nuzzle the dewgrass in the twilight yourself.
I see a doe and think pierce. skin. eat. Tender flesh to be gorged on. Blood let from the corners of my unwomanly mouth.

His mouth on my breast makes me want to crush the soft spot of a skull. Every thrust of his too-good goodness in me pumps me with evil.
His pure gentleness spills shadow into me, obscuring my rose-pink (if ever I had it), filling me instead with

My face spills wet heat; I want to know why salt courses through me with every pulse, why his too-good-too-kind self shifts my low-burning green embers, until I flare and burst
and burn down everyone.




Jenna Russell is a high school English teacher from Troy, Michigan. Her poems have been previously published in Belletrist Magazine and Swallow the Moon.