Poetry: Severity by Jessica Regione

Do love poems need love? Or just the anxiety of its proximity? Jessica Regione’s “Severity” works so well because that anxiety is delicately laid bare over a wintery afternoon. Modern romance: the unknowable ways we wish to describe the softness of his hair.


You say I look severe,
I say I prefer imperious,
which is a good quip, but still,

I wish I was the actress from the 60’s
you call hot, wearing jeans and an untucked
shirt with so many buttons undone

leaning into the wind with her long
layered haircut blown back
in the results of the Google image search.

I try to forget her and I do, mostly,
after half a carafe of wine
and a Xanax and an overheard

telephone conversation with your brother
in which the fact that I’m lounging,
or shall we say splayed,

in my underwear on your bed goes
unmentioned, after which you raise
the blinds on your windows so we can see

the snow laden trees outside.
You lay your head on my stomach,
which keeps making gurgling sounds,

which embarrasses me and I laugh out of shame,
and you shift down to rest your cheek
against my thighs, at which point I feel

something like peace.
And in my mind, by which I mean privately,
I try to find a name for the color

of the sky after it snows,
or while it’s still snowing,
mauve maybe, gray tinged with lilac,

though I wonder if you can see it,
being as you are, color blind, I mean
there isn’t a name either

for the feeling of my fingers in your hair,
which we all know is soft,
the softest even,

or the way the branches sway
just a little in the wake
of what had been a storm.




Jessica Regione

Jessica Regione has poems appearing in Dialogist, Not Very Quiet, The Summerset Review, and as part of the Tupelo Press 30/30 Project. She was a semi-finalist for the 2018 "Discovery"/Boston Review Poetry Prize and is a recipient of fellowships from Summer Literary Seminars. She lives in Brooklyn and is a Senior Managing Editor at Penguin Random House.

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