A Gathering of Leaves

By Jessica Lee McMillian

On a shelf of volumes bound to me, binding,
I extend the vertebrae, the body, a gathering
of sewn leaves, limbs of multiple endings,
luminous spines in column palette
 — stacked either way, verticals to heaven — 
tattooed with lofty cursive,
worlds folded under covers
ready for open palms

Under my jacket, I spill anatomy,
my vellum skin, organ of written word
and backbone stacked in raised bands, up
to my ink-cartridge head,
tongue inscribes paper scars

On porous pulp, under nose musk vanilla scent,
under fingertip, text densifies, nerve ends
to cellulose walls — acid-pregnant
and fading bones on shelf, hinges split
under inherent constituents — 
tactile script imprints fingers
in archeology of touch

In fullness and fall of leaves
we harbour the word
in the cycle of autumns
in demise and rebirth of book,
the body ever writes, is written


Jessica Lee McMillan is an emerging BC poet with an MA in English. She likes crooked, shiny things, and her writing explores architectures of perception, existentialism and longing in nature and music. You can find her work in A Poetry of Place: Journeys Across New Westminster, ShabdAaweg Review, RCLAS Wordplay at Work, Bewildering Stories and Pocket Lint. When not writing, doing front-line legal work or teaching, she spends time with her little family and buries herself in books and records. She writes from a charming, gritty, historical river city in British Columbia.

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