All in by Jessica Lee

by Jessica Lee

When does cohabitation become co-possession?

You bat my hand away

from my own fingers, tell me

to quit picking at the layer of skin I’m peeling

back from the bed around my thumb. I nod

submissive, suck the blood, then sit

on my own hands—a show of moderation.

Like a child, I pay pretend reverence

as if you were a parent, my part-creator.

We switch roles at night over the sink:

I tell you to be more gentle

with your gums, use a lighter hand

for brushing teeth. I’d argue

oral health matters more than

bitten cuticles, long-term,

but what’s the use? Your body

matters to my body and vice versa.

Still, our hands are ultimately

our own. We show love

in the ways the ways we know how.

Concern, a bird twittering just beyond

the window. We look up, smile

at her song, then go on drawing

our own blood.


Jessica Lee is an Assistant Poetry Editor for Narrative Magazine and an Editorial Reader for Copper Canyon Press. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in BOAAT, cream city review, DIAGRAM, Fugue, Passages North, phoebe, Prairie Schooner, Zone 3, and elsewhere. She was a finalist for the 2017 Greg Grummer Poetry Award and the 2017 So to Speak Poetry Contest. She lives in the Pacific Northwest. Find her online at