Memory 1: When You Are Too Young to Know that You are Alive Because You’ve Killed

When I ate the butterfly, I

stalked it by the hibiscus—like a stray cat,

the wings melted to my tongue

like triangles of silk.

When my aunt caught me,

she pinched my jaws as if I were a snake,

and said,

Someday that will be someone’s wherewithal,

down in there.


My aunts—grand or otherwise, were not surprised

when on a summer day, too hot for hurricane,

I ate the white cubes

hiding under my great aunt’s chair,

mistaking her white clay for a white fudge.


The river mucus, the hill blood squished

wetly with my spit between my teeth. Maybe

this orbit of aunts, my mother there, but still

an aunt to someone, know the secret

to eating dirt, or are just that hungry.


I spy a cricket in the corner and snatch its

greenness in my jaws. It creeks one last

time before I look up from my haunches.

There is a broom stick at my funeral mound

of a belly, my aunt asks me,


Just what is so hungry




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.