She never came—rusty-dirt

color the size of a warning just

a crush in the cotton panties,


I was not pregnant (te dijé), but

you wanted to know. What happened

the last time I had missed three

months of bloated warmth,

salty red-tide.


Sometimes I see the eggs like

smallish, grey, pebbles clattering

through me. Is a dead tumor more

fibrous than an egg? If a tumor is

there, does an egg lose its place

in line?


On the back of my retina, I can see

my great grandmother, standing. She

is within the tin, plywood, and metal

mesh of a coop. Hands akimbo.

Scrutinizing the hen that can’t

cluck anymore.


She lifts the fatty bag of feathers and rolls

the cheek of her palm over the

pelvic floor before she crouches

down and says to me, “Hold this.”


And I do. I do. Hold it firm because

I am more frightened of a smack,

and popping hot grease, and her

not loving me, than I am


when she takes the short razor from

her french roll of hair, and slits open

the pelvic floor of the hen. She rolls

her hands around its body until the

eggs roll dryly over the ground.


And. Then. And Now. I was. I am.

More afraid of not having eggs

because of being raised in a history

of hunger. Than I ever was of that.


Jessica Lanay currently lives in Bronx, NY and works at a magazine for writers in Manhattan. She moved to the city from Macon, Georgia and was raised in different places throughout the South. Themes that trickle through her poetry and short stories are female protagonists, internal migrations, the investigation of violence, disappearance (of landscape or persons), and magic realism. Her work can be found in Salt Hill Journal, Sugar House Review, Minerva Rising, Acentos Review, Crab Fat Magazine, Five Quarterly, Duende and As/Us. She is the founder of Jasper Collective, an editorial group comprised of women.