Jenny Molberg

While you soak the venom from your foot, I read you a book about witches. One pulverized a farmer’s livestock, one ruined all the men, another birthed a demon rabbit who ate the village children. What is true, the sting-rayed foot, the book, you, or me? True I asked the moon for you, then you appeared in your patched jacket, your grandpa’s bolo inked down your forearm, the two-pronged woven leather fanging down your wrist. What isn’t true will make us suffer. Unless the witches were burned. Or hanged. Or tarred and feathered, their bodies impersonating flight. You really did appear. You came with me into the ocean like a mist. I am afraid of losing it. When I swim, the jellyfish waft below, clouds in reverse, and nothing ever touches me. The pectoral disc moved like the idea of a pectoral disc—tail whipping, tissue rising with mucus and venom until the stinger clung like a mean fingernail to your foot. At first I didn’t believe you. Then my father held your foot like a child’s in his hand.

Jenny Molberg headshotJenny Molberg is the author of the poetry collections Marvels of the Invisible (winner of the Berkshire Prize, Tupelo Press, 2017), Refusal (LSU Press, 2020), and The Court of No Record (forthcoming from LSU Press, 2023). She has received support from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Sewanee Writers Conference, Vermont Studio Center, and the Longleaf Writers Conference. Her work has recently appeared or is forthcoming in Ploughshares, AGNI, The Missouri Review, The Rumpus, The Adroit Journal, Oprah Quarterly, and other publications. She is Associate Professor of Creative Writing at the University of Central Missouri, where she directs Pleiades Press and co-edits Pleiades magazine. Find her online at or on Twitter at @jennymolberg.