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Jessica D. Thompson

Jessica D. Thompson is the author of the full-length poetry collection Daybreak and Deep, (Kelsay Books), which was named a finalist in the American Book Fest Best Books of 2022 for Narrative Poetry. Her work has been widely published in journals such as Appalachian Review, Atlanta Review, ONE ART, The Midwest Quarterly, The Southern Review, Still: The Journal, and Tiferet. Her work has also appeared in many anthologies, among them: Women Speak, Vol 7 (Sheila-Na-Gig Editions) and Next Indiana Campfires: a Trail Companion (Indiana Humanities). She was a finalist in the 2022 Joy Bale Boone Poetry Prize (Heartland Review).


Entering the bloodstream through the placenta,
fetal cells embed themselves into the mother’s

skin, brain, heart, where they can stay for decades,
a phenomenon known as microchimerism,

from the Greek word chimera— a mythical
creature made from the parts of different animals.

There once was a boy who found bones on a farm,
believed them to be from a dinosaur.

At times, I convince myself that boy is thriving,
living in another galaxy.

Once upon a time, I sewed stars
onto a Little League cap—one for each home

run, scrubbed stains from a snow-white

I taught you to dance. Remember
the blue pinstripe shirt and the red suspenders?

It was 1984. I took you and one of your friends
to your first concert—Lover Boy.

But sometimes beloved mothers become myths
and little boys grow into minotaurs—

their rogue cells orbiting the souls
of women who spin aimlessly inside dark holes.

Sleep Walking

when my sister was a                little girl

she would glide

through the rooms

of our house

sleep                                             walking

her round face

luminescent                                innocent

her marble feet

tiny toes

sprouting beneath


                                       ruffle of a night



on a wooden ship

and we

my other sisters and I

                            a pod of
riding the waves

                                      alongside her

it was later

and too                                        soon

after she had grown

into an amazing woman

that a monster of the               deep

came                    changed

the makeup of her blood


we rode the                              waves

that tossed her                    followed

her                    to a shore of singing


from which we had to

turn and leave her

Desert Travelogue

Travel and tell no one…people ruin beautiful things.
                                                                   – Kahlil Gibran

An old friend is meeting me for lunch. She’s anxious to hear
about my travels in Jordan and Egypt. I will not tell her

about my failure to form perfectly round balls of labna yogurt,
place them neatly in a jar filled with fine olive oil—

how the Jordanian woman at the Iraq Al Amir Women’s
Association took my hands in her hands, helped re-work

the contents so that each white ball was uniform and smooth.
So unlike my life. I won’t tell her how the Egyptologist

reminded me of an old flame. How his brown skin glowed,
God like. I won’t tell her how I rode a camel named Casanova

in the Valley of the Kings. Instead, I will name the places
one can go where it never rains. Places where houses

are made of mud bricks. How the heat permeates a racing
heart, until the sun sets and the blood in your veins,

like the Nile, flows peacefully. She will never know
my envy of the bond between Bedouin men, young and old—

how they greeted each other with kisses, their arms draped
around shoulders. My friend will not hear about the girl,

perhaps five years old, who stood next to a wall of rubble
in the village of Esna.

How she held fast to a tall stick. Barefoot. Brave.
How fierce her dark eyes. How I recognized

the five-year old me in her gaze and suddenly realized
I never was meant for marriage.

In time, I will crave a cigarette. How long has it been
since I quit? If I have a second glass of wine,

it will be difficult not to tell how I smoked a hookah         
sitting on a dirt floor in a small stall in an alley in Amman.

How afterwards, the aroma of apples followed me for days—
down inside a tomb in the Temple of Hathor, built to worship

the goddess of healing. Only then might I tell my friend
how the story of my life unraveled

amongst the light
and shadow—the photographs still trapped inside my camera.

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