Cover 14

Letters From Our Future Selves

Jessica Morey-Collins

We knew what was required of us.
Homes were extracted—first from loam
and timber, then from steel and plaster,
and lastly from a mythos of capital.
Home grew elusive. Every time we glanced
up from our books, weather’s menace
crouched closer to our windows. In the North,
snow quivered and clicked its wings. Across the plains
wind sucked its teeth, teetered on severe heels.
Below God’s spindles, we shucked comforts—
eased thermostats, layered sweaters.
Nervous statisticians watched lines
wriggle and split, but the doom-criers asking
what’s next? were exiled summarily
from professionalism. Flouting tradition, the forests’
damp lifted from the understory, poised
needles toward our towns. All we had
was what we were willing to give
to our neighbors. Commuters drew breath
and exhaled embers—whole forests leapt
from leaves to ash. Our routines were tenuous,
eggy as synovial fluid, friable. It flew by, we said
of each workweek. We marveled at the arduous
minutes, how thin the veil just prior to 5pm.
Where did the time go? The tradition
of losing it all was longstanding, and, studiously,
we threw handfuls of coins at each apparition.
Ruin glinted in our rearviews. When we glanced
up from our work, the walls had thinned.
It wasn’t a riddle but a systemic rupture,
the earth so worm embroidered, its house herds
reserved for the most well-moneyed. They emerged,
clustered, and dispersed. The sky was wide
and unrepentant. Everyone owed themselves.

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Climate Adaptation Planning

Loud leaves, honorable—
proud deaths that mock
with their ground
-ward arcs, until smug
limbs scratch, used up cuticles
dried, flied off, while
my life is so stuck
to me

Lone gunman,
bonewhite so clearly
broken—defrag of
national past-
times: first-person
shoot her, laugh at
the lonesome crazy, list
ten women, which
two have been
hurt by their elided
abusers—I have been
raped by an elided agent,
his academic career,
his gilded friends,
his beautiful daughter,
his beautiful bookshelves
his beautiful bookshelves
were silly with women,
women who have been
hurt by elided agents
case studies

in anger’s incubation—
women make incredible victims—
live to be lifted in public
estimation, we brave
survivors, denied
our lived experiences,
given the full heft

of events—she was raped—
nameless agents, incubated
anger—she was
raped—rage grows
a muzzle, a snub
nose—the lone

gunman’s wife was she
white was she mother
was she working—
where did her gaze
fall upon the non-body,
the non-agent, did she
take him with her gaze
when she was laid upon

how the leaves lay down
so the canopy can’t
snag raindrops
before they reach
the asphalt, and so
how that asphalt gathers
drops through conduits
and runoff traces lands’
crevices, how runoff
cleaves the land and leaves
its lacerations—it was raining
but who rained, tell me
who rained here

Jessica Morey-Collins is a poet and resilience planner. She received her MFA from the University of New Orleans, where she worked as associate poetry editor for Bayou Magazine. Her poems can be found in Pleiades, Prairie Schooner, Sycamore Review, and elsewhere. She currently works as a project manager at the University of Oregon’s Institute for Policy Research and Engagement. Find her at