Exit Interview

My heaven is a metric one, like my mother’s.
Upon arrival, we pray some angel shows us
spreadsheets—charts and maps, graphs
and infographics. How many naps did I take,
over how many hours? How many hearts
did I break, and how long did it take them—
on average—to recover? My mother wants
a count of steps, the volume of bodily
fluids. She wonders what was her top-
speed, her total mileage. Incarnate,
she keeps a tally of every mile she’s run
since my birth, a tiny tabulation
in the corner of her calendar’s squares.
When she hit ten-thousand, her then-husband
bought her a customized trophy. How many
hours, total, will it take us to heal from his
indiscretion? How many children, total,
did he masturbate to, and how vast a network
of hurt was he a dot on? I wonder about the dye-droplet
of my words into the internet’s water—if it bled
into how many stranger’s homes. How
many people will read my poems? If I
find kind words and diffuse them far,
will I dampen these knots and help them to loosen?
Did his images of little girls come to him
in .zip files, and from where? How many times
does a map of lost-innocence wrap around
the planet. My mother wonders, if every shed skin cell
from her entire lifetime was pressed
into a giant ball, would it fit
into her bedroom. Would the volume of her
exhalations fit into a stadium, a cave? The odds
are astronomical that every human breath
holds in it a molecule that once passed
through Christ’s lungs. Centuries out
of my tenure on this planet, I want to watch
a geographic time-lapse of my presence here:
the pinprick of the first improbable
cells meeting, my first cry sending traces
of DNA into a hospital room, my steps dragging
my residue all over the planet until I also
become pervasive, maybe constituent enough
to be a moot point, overall.


Jessica Morey-Collins received her MFA from the University of New Orleans, where she won an Academy of American Poets award, and worked as associate poetry editor for Bayou Magazine. Her poems can be found or are forthcoming in Pleiades, Prairie Schooner, Juked, and elsewhere. She is currently working on a Masters of Community and Regional Planning at the University of Oregon. She tweets @cautiousmonster.