Jessica Lee



My mom found my condoms


I’m eight hundred miles away
and my family is painting over the red

walls of teenage bedroom/boudoir, boxing up
the contents of my flower-knobbed drawers.

On the phone, my mother mentions
the paper lunch bag she found full

of condoms. Her voice raises an octave
or two, though she’s not certain

whether she can chide me now
that I’m grown. And me,

I say oh, try to change the subject
to weather as quickly as possible

afraid she’s found the fishnet
crotchless panties, too,

along with the miniature-plastic-blue
vibrator my ex-boyfriend bought me

as a half-joke at a sex shop
he only half-wanted to go into.

And my oh rises, too, for I’m realizing
that sex and all its toys will forever be shoved

to the back of the drawer in with us,
whether we’re speaking face to face

or across the line, for my mother and I
don’t speak the same sex-talk

and the intimacy I long to have
with her over a glass of wine

will never come, just as I fear
she never will come again, herself.


Jessica Lee is an Assistant Editor for Narrative Magazine and an intern for Copper Canyon Press. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in American Literary Review, BOAAT, cream city review, DIAGRAM, Fugue, NASTY WOMEN POETS: An Unapologetic Anthology of Subversive Verse (Lost Horse Press), phoebe, and elsewhere. She was a finalist for the 2017 So to Speak Poetry Contest and the 2017 Greg Grummer Poetry Award. Find her online at

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