Jenny Yang Cropp
AUTHOR BIO – DRAFT # 53
Because she was weaned on red dirt and asphalt as far as you can see, she went straight for the skyscrapers. Big bus, big city, pushing her body up against the first shining tower she met, pressing until it began to crack. She’d never seen herself that way before, collapsed, rises and falls flattened into one, abstract outline of a living thing. Couldn’t stop. Didn’t know how to want to stop. There were glass shards lodged in the corners of her eyes before she ever looked up and wondered where the sky had gone. After that, her heart turned to broomweed. She drew landscapes and placed herself beyond the vanishing point knowing that to leave is also to return. Every mile she ran looped back upon itself. City after city, asleep in cupboards all those years and no one counting to a hundred. No one coming to find her. She waited for a wall of flesh to close in, soothe her fear of light, but she couldn’t be found. She told herself the looking is all we have, and every night for seven years she recited the same three prayers: one for death, one for resurrection, and one not for love but for something approximating love, the symbol for love, like the outline of her lips etched in glass.
THIS IS NOT AN APOLOGY
The father to his daughter says, Sometimes, when a hard man begets a hard son who begets a hard son, they will sing in the forked tongue of their own anger. They will pretend they know God, are God, have been forgiven by… And when a hard man begets a daughter, he forgets to sing at all. In the sadness of her birth, he mistakes flesh for softness, plucks the fruit from her mouth and tells her to hush when she cries.
His daughter recalls the summer after she’d been cut off, the chemical smell of varnish, the scratched and tagged blonde wood of her dorm room bunk, the rippled outline of clearance sale surrealist posters, Dali and Magritte warped by the wet heat and molding, her body pinned, her boyfriend’s drunk hands, familiar echo of threat. To her father, she says, This is not a parable.
To herself, she says, I am not a bird or a flower.
Or a fundamental truth about birds or flowers.
Or the sharp but unidentifiable lines of part of a bird or a flower close-up with blurred background hinting at a larger existence.
When she was twelve, she held a knife to her skin and found it was stone. She knows he doesn’t want her forgiveness, that he has already forgiven himself.
Jenny Yang Cropp is the author of String Theory (forthcoming from Mongrel Empire Press) and the chapbook, Hanging the Moon (from RockSaw Press). Her poems have appeared in Boxcar Poetry Review, Ecotone, Hayden's Ferry Review, and other journals. She grew up mainly in Oklahoma, received her M.F.A in creative writing from Minnesota State University-Mankato, and is currently a Ph.D. student in English at the University of South Dakota.
Festival of Language Event: 2013 Milwaukee M/MLA, 2014 Seattle AWP