Jennifer K. Sweeney

I am Myself Three Selves at Least

I am, myself, three selves at least,
the one who sweeps the brittle
bees, who saves the broken plates


and bowls, who counts to ten,
who tends the shoals,
who steeps the morning’s Assam leaves


and when day is wrung
tightens clock springs.
And yes, the one who sat through youth


quiet as a tea stain, whose hand
went up and knees went down,
whose party dresses soaked with rain,


who dug up bones
of snakes and mice
and stashed them inside baby jars—


who did not eat,
but did not starve.
And the self who twists the fallen


dogwood sticks into her hair,
who knows the trick of grief
is there is nothing such as sin


and neither good to part
the air, whom autumn claims
skin by skin.


“I am Myself Three Selves at Least” is from How to Live on Bread and Music (Perugia Press, 2009).