Jennifer Markell

Rent Control

Her landlord showed up
to fix the porch light,
stood beside her on the cracked
stoop, assessing.

He asked about night school, her job
at the Busy Bee, her baby daughter.
Praised her summer sundress.
Then the demand:
Turn around, let me look at you.

          Years later, she needed to know—
had she paused, resisted, if only
a few seconds—hesitated, before
she tamed the flounce of her
flowered dress
and turned a half-circle for him.

Her landlord’s smile spread
over the field of flowers,
an almighty sun scorching the lilies.



2 a.m.

The wind moves, the branch moves, the mind
moves, vigilant as an arctic fox, tuned
to what’s hidden in ice. Mind’s a hunter

on the prowl, and a gatherer, sorting
memories underground. It travels back
for a faithless lover. Jumps the queue

to the future. Mind likes to remind:
you can’t survive on love,
though you can starve for it.

Late at night, the mind confronts itself,
ruminates on the fate of hairless bipeds.
It sighs at a melting icicle. Flies to the sun.



Jennifer Markell’s poetry collection, Samsara, (Turning Point, 2014) was named a “Must Read Book of Poetry” by the Massachusetts Book Awards in 2015. Other honors include the Firman Houghton and Barbara Bradley awards from the New England Poetry Club and Finalist for the Rita Dove Prize in Poetry (International Literary Awards, 2016). Her work has appeared in publications including Consequence, RHINO, Tinderbox, and The Women’s Review of Books.