Most days, I can tell who
I wasn’t always like this,
sucked so dry I needed to buy slick lotions
to rub into my skin–
I wasn’t always like this.
Oh, the wonders I once held
warm in my cupped hands, then forgot.
I turn the page, waving like a white flag.
I lived once
without my need:
The mouth that yawns wide,
a deep black hole.
The mouth that hates silence. Asks
too many simple questions.
The mouth I always feared
was too big.
The mouth I made too small.
Can we teeter together
on this knife’s edge of having and wanting –
the blameless mouth and
the blameless woman
who wears you
like a crimson rose, opening
on her expansive, snow
The above is a compilation of lines taken from a variety of poems in poet Jessica Fox-Wilson’s Blameless Mouth manuscript. As a long-time friend, I am hoping she’ll forgive me for fracturing and reconstructing her work as part of my participation in her virtual book tour to give you a taste of her book.
I had many grand plans for this stop on her book tour. I envisioned pairing exciting new recipes with her poems on hunger and satiety. I envisioned relating the themes of Blameless Mouth—consumption both mindful and unmindful, wanting, possessing—with the politics of the way we eat. I considered tying masculine and feminine relationships to hunger and food to a close reading of her remarkable collection.
Ultimately, I have done none of these things.
My own relationship to food lately has been changing. I am nearly four months pregnant (YAY!), and, thanks to some powerful, persistent nausea, I spent a good deal of the past 3 months avoiding the kitchen and dreading food. As I have entered the second trimester, however, food has again begun to look and smell and taste appealing, and I find myself more and more back in the kitchen I love as my energy levels slowly pick up. The food I make now is not just for myself and my husband; it is for the tiny person I am only just beginning to know.
I can’t yet know the ways in which becoming a mother will change me, but I know that many of the aspects of women’s lives portrayed in Blameless Mouth will be part of that transformation: voice, agency, hunger, and satiety. Jessica’s poems examine what women seek, what we are willing to speak, how we silence ourselves and are silenced by others, how voids are created inside ourselves as we grow into women, and what role we and others have in filling such voids.
I am neither a young mother nor an inexperienced person, which means that I will be fortunate enough to approach motherhood from a position of relative strength. I have learned to acknowledge the importance of satisfying my own hunger even as I care for others and learned to be comfortable speaking what is worth saying in spite of my fear. I have grown to be at peace with my own blameless mouth. That peace is what I most want to teach my child, boy or girl.
Jessica’s collection of poetry runs a wide range, depicting both fear and fearlessness when faced with one’s true self and one’s own desires. For that reason, Blameless Mouth has broad application; so many women can see themselves in the women portrayed in this book. All of us are intimately familiar with what it means to be scared and silenced and ashamed and uncertain at times. All of us also know what it means to be bold and confident and fierce and strong. In being and expressing honestly who we are, in accepting ourselves in the present moment even as we critically examine both self and society, we are all of us blameless.
If you haven’t yet read this book, pick up a copy. It’s honest, clear, compassionate, and compelling. In it, I see myself and the women around me. It’s beautiful, memorable, and utterly remarkable.2 comments