“Home Visit: Jenny” by Jennifer Perrine

Jennifer Perrine


When I arrived, she had been alone
with the body for three weeks: her mother
a puddle on the bathroom floor, water

still running in the sink. Jenny found
bologna and old yogurt in the kitchen
trash, socked it away in the fridge to eat

a slice and a spoonful a day. When the smell
overwhelmed her, she buried her face
in the laundry heap, sucking in whiffs

of stale sweat and perfumed cuffs. Of course,
I didn’t know this then, didn’t know
how she’d turned her bedroom into a toilet

to spare herself the sight of all that blood,
how she’d fed her gnarled tabby as best
she could, then buried it beneath the potted

fern. Six years later, she tells me all this,
tells me she doesn’t remember the police
kicking in her door or the flash and whirr

of cameras as I carried her outside,
how she shoved her face against my sternum
so hard I felt her screams hum in my chest.

from Rattle #31, Summer 2009


Jennifer Perrine: “Several years ago, I supported my writing habit by working as an in-home social worker for children with developmental disorders, many of whom had been neglected or abused. I couldn’t stand the heat and had to exit that particular kitchen, but I continue to write poems inspired by what I witnessed as a way to honor those kids, as well as all the folks who continue to do the job for which I was so ill-suited.” (web)

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