ISSUE 6 · SPRING 2011
from the human-suit series
Today at the dry cleaner’s I show my ticket stub, and a body brings me
a plain jacket made of tweed with leather elbow patches, instead of my
human-suit. The face before me insists the plain tweed jacket with
elbow patches is the article I’ve come to retrieve, and suggests I take it
and go. I gesture to the word “suit” on the stub—human-suit, not some
plain jacket. The two legs move, carrying off what is not mine, clearly
just as displeased at this added effort. I have been coming here now
for seven months, I say in the direction of the sway-swaying body,
and I’ve never had a problem before. Seven months, the voice says
from every corner of the room, never seen you. The hand listlessly
holds up my human-suit, draped from a hanger, sheltered in thin plastic.
The hand dances my human-suit up and down, to catch my attention
from the back of the room, the rotating whirl of washables. And if
I’d been wearing it, I’d have clapped its palms together to show relief.
Today I set out to bicycle to the harbor around the hour
the seals get hungriest and bob around like plastic bags.
But I left late, and so I raced, and as I went to dismount
side-saddle, snagged my human-suit on the derailleur,
still rusty from the rain season. It wasn’t pretty, and I’ll
spare you the more nauseating details, but the way gears
work, so fast, they ripped off a nice chunk from the right
leg. Maybe four square inches. After that I was afraid
to lean too far over the dock, lest something fall out, and
was afraid for the families who came to see seals, seeing
more than expected. Then I was afraid for the depleted
repair-kit, the minutes tainted by help-line hold-music
on repeat, and ultimately, the prohibitive cost of shipping
back and forth my human-suit for the third time this year.
My human-suit felt tight today. This happened
once in 2006—tight one day, couldn’t get it on
for two weeks. Far as I can tell, it’s separate
from diet and exercise, separate from a mere
wanting. Maybe it’s the tide, maybe it’s not;
what matters is I’m supposed to be seated
on an Amtrak train now, and instead
I’m tugging slowly at the squinched-up
places, hoping they might ease up in time
for the 4:43. And when this happens,
I curse, and I ask nicely, I pull taut that
which can be pulled taut, but all the while
know it is out of my hands, like the way
a drop of water slides down the cup’s side.
Jessica Young currently holds a Zell Fellowship for poetry in Ann Arbor, MI. She completed her MFA in Creative Writing at the University of Michigan, where she received two Hopwood awards and the Moveen Residency. Her undergraduate work was at MIT where she received four Ilona Karmel prizes for her poetry and essays. Her chapbook, Only as a Body, won the 2010 Bateau Boom contest. She has been nominated for a Pushcart.