SWWIM publishes, celebrates, & promotes women, women-identifying & Femme-presenting writers through a Miami-based reading series & the online poetry journal SWWIM Every Day.

After Pawning the Engagement Ring


I go to the museum and sit before Robert Motherwell’s

Elegy to the Spanish Republic with three black holes in my head.

One for the way I hated the poet when he called me stupid.

Another black hole because I felt like a child, carsick

and chicken. I don’t care what day it is, he said on my birthday.

Was he an aperture, opening inside me?

Or was he a bullet I must dodge for the rest of my life.

At the Cash America Pawn, I waited in line, the ring box

white as ivory, a severed tusk singeing a hole through my hand.


One more black hole, there, in the middle. The question

I asked in my head for a year: How can he think

he owns other people? Him, in the dark, calling my body

his. My breasts, my hair, my hips. I shout leave

into Motherwell’s circles. I know I can’t help it, the ring

in its strange case, cold as a head with no body.




Jenny Molberg’s debut collection of poetry, Marvels of the Invisible, won the 2014 Berkshire Prize (Tupelo Press, 2017). Her work has recently appeared or is forthcoming in Ploughshares, The Missouri Review, Copper Nickel, Gulf Coast, Boulevard, Poetry International, the Orison Anthology, Best New Poets, and other publications. In 2017, she was the Mark Strand scholar at the Sewanee Writers Conference, and she will be a fellow at the Vermont Studio Center in 2018. She teaches at the University of Central Missouri and is Co-editor of Pleiades. Find her online at jennymolberg.com


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