The Take

The Take: Jennifer Brown

Ever wonder how journal editors make decisions about work to feature? The Take gives you a glimpse behind the scenes at Mud Season Review. Here, we feature one single poem or flash fiction piece that caught the attention of the editorial team, apart from the signature poetry portfolio or fiction piece in our bi-monthly issues. We hear from the author about the inspiration for his or her work, and we hear from a co-editor about why the poem or flash fiction story stood out.

Jennifer Brown

Self Storage

Does it spark joy?
– Marie Kondo

You’re packing to move. Boxes squat
squarely along the walls, keeping their secrets
despite blocky labels that give an idea
of order to the bound-up entropy of a life.

You stand in a moat of space surrounding
discards like a volcano growing its crater—
these painful blobs and scalding rivers of the past
spew up into view, some for the first time

since your childhood, a tub of loose photos
poorly composed and yellowing, bag of badges
and pins and ribbons, souvenir plastic pens,
notes saved in a shoebox, each one folded

to the exact specs of your adolescent sense
of secrecy and flair. Bubbly cursive vowels,
punctuation shaped like hearts, so much
effusion, the feelings felt so enormous

and now you can’t remember them at all.
Bald-spotted bunny, petting-zoo of lambs,
bears, dogs with silly names, none loved enough
to have turned Real like the toys in the story.

This crucible of artifacts simmers, the crater deepens—
what can fluoresce with love enough
to map a sure path through the warehouse
of self? Let Rosebud go up in flames.

Stop filling boxes. Heave it all off the cliff into yesterday
and step out with your warmest companion—
carry only what you need, light as fur
and claw, and let the earth forget you.

Author’s Statement

For evident reasons, the process of moving dredges up all sorts of memories and confronts us with both the pleasure that can be derived from owning things and the dread of having to deal with them. A recent, downsizing move forced me to reckon the importance of childhood memorabilia very strictly, and I came to realize, to my surprise, that there was little I wanted to keep carrying with me. No more tyranny of things!

From the Poetry Editors
Inspired by the Marie Kondo method of decluttering, Brown delves into the contrast of physical versus emotional packing. She highlights these moments with poignant metaphors and puns such as storing physical objects away while also storing the intangible pieces of one’s past. This poem stirs an overwhelming emotion within the reader by use of a second person narrative; putting the reader in the position of the speaker.

By Grier Martin

Grier Martin has worked with Mud Season Review since 2017, as a poetry reader, associate poetry editor, poetry co-editor, and co-editor-in-chief. She is an active participant in the Burlington Writers Workshop and founded its Poetry Discussion Group, which she led for over a year. She is a resident of Burlington, VT and a graduate of Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service.