What Came First | Jennifer Campbell

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Jennifer Campbell is an English professor at SUNY Erie and a co-editor of Earths Daughters. She has two full-length poetry collections, Supposed to Love (Saddle Road Press) and Driving Straight Through (FootHills). Her poetry has recently appeared in Paterson Literary Review, Comstock, Little Patuxent Review, The Healing Muse, and The Sixty-four Best Poets of 2019. She lives with her husband and son in Buffalo, NY. See more at www.jennifer-campbell.com .





In time, the flashbacks faded.
Her own private Guernica
devolved into a crowd of ash,
a history lesson.
Having well-earned the benefits
of a liberal arts education,
she can add perspective
where it may seem lacking,
knows how time will wear away
layers of rock until it becomes soft gypsum,
understands the topography
of the hacky sack,
can apply the Butterfly Effect
to certain elections and social media posts,
even the glamorously tragic
death of Isadora Duncan.
Ultimately, an oven-witch is just
an asterisk in Cultural Anthropology,
a punch line at a frat party.
Descartes gives her less of a problem
than Freud; she can appreciate
that to think is an act of self-preservation,
yet Freud would call hers an unnatural
food obsession, overanalyze
her stepmother’s withholding influence.
She’s done with posturing, trying
to please—there’s little place
in the true narrative for that—
in all manner of convincing Venn diagrams,
health and self-satisfaction
rarely meet for young women.
She’s content to walk that stage,
accept some earned applause,
and let the real research begin.