Origin Stories – Jessica Purdy

Origin Stories
    by Jessica Purdy

    Beginnings are snowscapes. Or skin 
    never touched by the sun until birth. 

    The end of a year is just as cheek-slapped 
    as its opposite. In spring we wait. 

    Like ice grits its teeth and succumbs 
    to melting. New England summers 

    that used to feel yearslong only relax 
    the shoulders. Fleeting as foxes. 

    Summer runs through the yard. Robins 
    fight circles in the hedges. Black-striped 

    eyes and black coats with red epaulettes 
    cling to the cattails. Songs never heard 

    before emerge. Yelling with the whole 
    body. Sense the warnings. You are not 

    welcome in their world. Three sparrows 
    hold the iron patio furniture as if 

    they might lift off and take the chairs 
    in their claws. Dandelions bloom yellow 

    forever until they turn white from sorrow 
    overnight. Why aren’t there fish visiting 

    the forests? Dirigibles navigating the air 
    as if they could breathe there? Why was 

    childhood an eternity? Yes, there were 
    fireflies and kerosene lamps. On the round 

    kitchen table, oilcloth spread. Bare feet 
    grasping the wooden rungs of mismatched 

    chairs. Our bodies so flexible we’d compare 
    who could bend to bite their own toenails. 

    Why was childhood an eternity? That salty, 
    dirty, sweat-on-the-tongue ending.

Origin Stories – Ouroboros

This poem came out of a Poetry Salon generative workshop with Tresha Faye Haefner. The prompt asked: “Pick a scene you can recall in some detail. Write some things that seem far away from this image. Then read the poem ‘Carla Moves About the Yard’ By Ike Pickett. Write down surprising juxtapositions, personification, and metaphors in your poem.” As I was writing, the word “Ouroboros” came to mind as strange words often do, so I had to look it up and I found there were connections with the imagery I had written down. Childhood, the passing of time, and the way the landscape reflects the circle of life were all embodied in the image of the snake eating its own tail. And so, the resulting poem begins with “beginnings” and ends with “ending.”


Jessica Purdy is the author of STARLAND and Sleep in a Strange House, released by Nixes Mate in 2017 and 2018. Sleep in a Strange House was a finalist for the NH Literary Award for poetry. Murder in the House, a pamphlet of her poems on the Nutshell Studies of Unexplained Death was released by Buttonhook Press in 2022. She is the author of the chapbook Learning the Names (Finishing Line Press 2015). Her chapbook The Adorable Knife is forthcoming from Grey Book Press. She holds an MFA in Creative Writing from Emerson College. Her poems and flash fiction have appeared or are forthcoming in many journals including Litro, Gone Lawn, Mom Egg Review, Lily Poetry Review, Ran Off with the Star Bassoon, The Night Heron Barks, and Radar. She is the poetry editor for the anthology, Ten Piscataqua Writers 2022. Follow her on Twitter @JessicaPurdy123, Instagram, and Facebook: jessica.purdy.735,  and her website: jessicapurdy.com


Murder in the House – Buttonhook Press 2022 Pamphlet Series: Americana. Open: Journal of Arts & Letters

Sleep in a Strange House – Nixes Mate Books

STARLAND – Nixes Mate Books.

Learning the Names – Finishing Line Press

Gyroscope Review Spring 2023 Issue Available now!

Previous Origin Stories

April 1 – Wanda Praisner

April 2 – Howard Lieberman

April 3 – L. Shapley Bassen

April 4 – Sharon Scholl

April 5 – Stellasue Lee

April 6 – Jeanne DeLarm

April 7 – Virginia Smith

April 8 – Patricia Ware

April 9 – Mary Makofske

April 10 – Ann Wallace

Previous NPM celebrations from Gyroscope Review

Let the Poet Speak! 2022

Promopalooza 2021

Poet of the Day 2020

Poets Read 2019

National Poetry Month Interview Series 2018

Book Links Party 2017

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About National Poetry Month

Origin Stories