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Unbuttoned | Jill Jones

If I have to earn some skin

does it have to be new?

Can I recycle my mother’s

wedding dress,

a gallon of blue paint,

the leftover hotel shampoo?

Maybe there’s also something

around me I should return,

the coat I stole from winter

back east, my old feathers,

or the scales I can’t remember

growing in the afternoon.

But, yes, there’s the photograph,

me in a skewed school hat,

oversized boots looking green

in light coming through

the window covered in its skin

of last century’s flowers.

There’s that weird glimmer of hope

or fantasy that now itches

along with the lies I told,

archives falling from my hair,

those ribbons that never stayed put.

If I have to earn some other coat

do I need to still keep warm?

Or shall I unbutton and fold

what’s left, step out of my nerves

and my veins, leave everything

—corpse, crevice, carcass, shell—

but keep my breath for

the impending and tremendous air

that’s beyond howling when

I touch it to my old pelt?

Jill Jones has published eleven full-length books of poetry, including Viva the Real (UQP 2018), shortlisted for the 2019 Prime Minister’s Literary Award for Poetry, and The Beautiful Anxiety (Puncher & Wattmann 2014) which won the Victorian Premier’s Prize for Poetry in 2015. In 2014 she was poet-in-residence at Stockholm University.

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