Jocelyn Mosman


You are every stretch of tendon,
wrist flexed, then relaxed,
the curvature of hand,
steady and bent.

You are brain stem activity,
words and pain both flowing
down your spinal cord
until it is too hard to write.

You are mouth and throat,
soft spoken and fragile,
swallowing blood,
choking back heart.

You rely on the body:
hand to write,
spine to stand,
mouth to speak.

As you collapse inward
like a burning house,
all I can do is hold sound
the walls,

resist the destruction,
or flee.

I will not leave.
I will not watch you burn.

I will guide your hand,
until words flow past
unspeakable pain
onto open page.

I will stand tall beside you,
become sturdy,
lumbar vertebrae,
help you climb and stretch.

I will give your voice legacy,
as student, as friend,
next generation of oral tradition
passed hand-to-hand like communion,

but when the house smolders,
the skeleton screams,
the joints crack.

I smell smoke.

As body relies on body,
I rely on you.

I will not leave.
I will not watch you burn.

Illustration by Dakota Puckett Lee

Illustration by Dakota Puckett Lee

Previously published in the UKCCWS Illustrated Anthology Vol. 3 (2016) with the accompanying illustration.

Jocelyn Mosman is a first-year law student at Rutgers Law School. She plans to pursue a career in international human rights and immigration law. She recently published a policy brief on DACA legislation. At Rutgers, she is active in pro bono projects and student organizations, including the International and Immigration Law Societies. Additionally, she has published three volumes of poetry and has been featured for numerous anthologies and literary journals. She was a member of the 2015 Northampton National Poetry Slam Team and has performed across the United States, the Republic of Ireland, and England.