Janelle DolRayne


After Helen Frankenthaler

The women of my family move
like this: running water
down their pink shoulders
their long skirts overturned
dandelions reaching for the ground.

To be more liquid than we
already are. To be pink shapes
swimming amongst ourselves—
gently brushing up against each
other’s long strands of black hair.
In the back seat we are side by side.
I’m imagining the probability
of a car existing as a perfect bubble
underwater. I’m seeing us as we leave,
one by one, city by city,
streams of black hair rising
to the top where we become
little islands.

An inflight prayer finishing Ed Ruscha’s sentences

After two paintings titled Indecision, 1982

                                                No wait a minute, airplane, if we are flying,

yes, I think we would hear the laughter from every human rising.

                        Or maybe that’s turbulence.

                                                I think the laughter makes them uneasy.
                                I think I just might call each attendant by a saint’s name.
I know I’ll make them feel like heroes.
                                                But then again as long as they believe their heroes,
                                                                                                        I’ll be able to rest.
I, too, feel like a jet being towed into a jet bridge
                                        I think by a small cart
                                                                                I’ll never be able to see.
Or that my big body—shaped perfectly to fly—
                                        is maybe incapable of small turns.
                                                                                I’ll never know a gentle approach.
But if their fears have turned by initial descent,
                                        then we certainly have reasons to be laughing
                                                                                with all the people on earth, again.

Janelle DolRayne is a former poetry editor of Copper Nickel and art and production editor of The Journal. Her poems and essay have appeared in The Laurel Review, The Indiana Review, Ninth Letter, The Collagist, Parcel, Interrupture, and the 2013 Best of the Net Anthology, among others. She is the recipient of an Academy of American Poets Prize, the Vandewater Poetry Award, and an M.F.A. degree from The Ohio State University. She is originally from Coal Creek Canyon, CO, and currently calls Los Angeles home.