Jordan Rice


Citronella candles flickering now my neighbor's laughter draws me
in although I know I don't belong. Someone caps another bottle,

the cooler slamming shut. Someone tells a joke. "Where do they put
a missing tranny's photo? On cartons of half and half." And I'm

remembering my life in Richmond—years ago, my mouth still split
from saying no too often or too late another time to the first man

that I trusted—and the night an artist took me home to dried acrylic
lacing color arcs across her studio, palettes struck with brushes

her exhibit a success. Leaning at my chest she cupped her palms there
at flatness without laughing: I'll fuck you tonight if you shave your beard off first.

Whatever she could tell I couldn't say there by her sink—Barbasol,
cheap razors, our Stolichnaya gone—traffic echoing the gallery below

and steam across the sliding mirror. My tits, she joked, still look like
mosquito bites
. And drawing her syringe her estradiol the needle jab

quick into her thigh—you might as well learn how to do this now. Afterward
I followed her up flights onto the roof to see the student tenements,

neon liquor districts, neighborhoods by order of surrender: Shockoe
Bottom Church Hill Jackson Ward Oregon Hill dim rows of shotgun

houses fanning out in all directions, bronze generals astride their horses
lit up from below and past the river distant suburbs, silent lots, estates

of perfect manicure, somewhere the one she'd left, no turning
back allowed until we reached the crumbling edge to feel again

that urge to fall from which I never taught my body to recoil.

Jordan Rice is the author of Constellarium (Orison Books 2016). Her poems have been published or are forthcoming in American Literary Review, Colorado Review, The Feminist Wire, Gulf Coast, Indiana Review, Mid-American Review, Mississippi Review, and Witness, among many others. Her poems have also been anthologized in Writing the Walls Down: A Convergence of LGBTQ Voices, Troubling the Line: Trans and Genderqueer Poetry and Poetics, The Southern Poetry Anthology: Volume V, Best New Poets 2011, A Face to Meet the Faces: An Anthology of Contemporary Persona Poetry, Collecting Life: Poets on Objects Known and Imagined, Best of the Web 2009, and Best New Poets 2008.

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