Jessica Cuello
from the letters of Mary Shelley

from the letters of Mary Shelley, Vol 1, ed. Bennett


Dear Mother,

I had a dream
that my little baby came to life again.

What is it to make a life
that dies—like god
it cannot stand
to stay.

Cabbage leaves are soft
like cloth and smell of tea.
I wore them on my breasts
like medicine.The earthy
taste of tea made me hate
my flesh—I didn’t know
if I was made of
anything else.
Her thirteen days
were the only time
and they had no measure.
Clouds swirled like bands
of twisted cloth.
I’m sorry to burden you.

As a child, I was spooked
by the empty hall
when father moved us in.
At first he loved me
like I was you

and in the dream we rubbed it by the fire
and it lived.


Yours, as ever,
Mary



Jessica Cuello is the author of Pricking (Tiger Bark Press, 2016) and Hunt (The Word Works, 2017). She has been awarded The 2017 CNY Book Award, The 2016 Washington Prize, The New Letters Poetry Prize, a Saltonstall Fellowship, and most recently, The New Ohio Review Poetry Prize. Her newest poems can be found in Copper Nickel, Cave Wall, Bat City Review, Pleiades, and Salamander.