Jessica Lee Richardson Reacts to Dolan Morgan’s “Insignificana”


Dolan Morgan’s new story collection Insignificana includes 22 illustrations by the author. To celebrate the release of the book, Morgan asked three of his favorite writers to create responses to the images. Poet Allyson Paty, fiction writer Jessica Lee Richardson, and musician Emilyn Brodsky each received three illustrations and free reign to do whatever they want. Below, find the second set of illustrations and Richardson’s reply.

audrey hepburn 2-450

hijacking 1-450


Fissure in the Plastic Dome
by Jessica Lee Richardson


Once New York became a snow globe shaken too hard;

scrappy and opaque were never strangers to anything cupped in hands;

it was called hijacking;


I am surprised I went alone to lean my back against the Grace Building and write, but it’s a little bit poetic when viewed from a great distance, that curve, the hunched and sad project of flight, look we’re in the sky in myriads; the city that bled in every head, a lot of cities have bled in heads, though; how the stratosphere was gridded from some corneas, is, targeting; the friend who mimed falling down all day just to freak us out, hip first is how to fall, most precious hip; think of the scapula;


even two river mirrors are not enough to see our own faces in; I think I had some insight about this once; I guess I was younger and sturdier back then, because when the tornado leveled Tuscaloosa I got PTSD, and I did do tree removal and wrap pallets, but in 2001 I walked right into the middle, other people’s middle; I went downtown and hugged stranger’s midsections by candlelight; thought that was help, maybe it was, maybe there’s just a limit on how many things you can watch fall down in a life;

the repetition of windows erasing our feet;

the repetition of windows at our feet;

the repetition of us on our knees;

on our feet;

on our knees;

on our feet;

on our knees;

he loves me;


the gut where a door could be;

they say it’s the goat’s courage that makes him inedible to that tiger in Europe;


one time at a concert at Continental Airlines Arena I thought I could see how close to death everybody was; close; closer; closest; their bags looked like luggage because of the power of suggestion; I never went to Tiffany’s for comfort but I did go to Patricia Fields and I did go to St. Thomas for evensong and I’m not religious either but if it ever gets to be too much, evensong is at 5:30 and platforms feel better than heels;

you are not too close I’m sure, but still too close I know;


Soon after, my friends assembled a surprise party for me, my first ever, for going away; I was on the couch of a unicorn boy, looking up at the pink unicorns on his walls, and cell phones were not the same then; I missed the calls; I forgot; I was unicorn; I was pissed; those pictures still exist, all of their arms around invisible me; a perfect surprise; a perfect going away; to just be gone; deletion a trick of the lens; deletion a trick of location;


one time we all had to fashion our own sun for awhile, an inside sun never minding the melting snow pieces, the wet hands when we shook,

the glow of a million smiles,

the glow of a million smiles,

the glow of a million smiles,

if you repeat things again and again maybe?


I came back in time for the blackout; I must confess when I feared for my life in a thousand piece unison, as traffic light after traffic light went out and we all started marching toward Brooklyn; I must confess I laughed; l child laughed; and pizza made by flame lights this misty flour haze; the most romantic I have ever seen cheese; the night was so warm we slept in Union Square while the glowsticked and holler hearted took back the night;


I stuck it out for enough years to hug strangers for Obama the time even the cops danced in the streets; to eat the first bagel in a Greenpoint bakery at sunrise; long enough to trust my move toward a hunching grace and go alone;

to fold at the middle for the going;

slip out like water;

but I will always mirror you.


Jessica Lee Richardson, a New Jersey native, lived in Brooklyn and performed Off-Broadway and elsewhere for years before earning her MFA in fiction from the University of Alabama in 2013. Her short story collection, It Had Been Planned and There Were Guides (FC2, 2015), won the Ronald Sukenick Innovative Fiction Prize and was longlisted for a PEN American Center award. Stories and poems also won awards from the National Society of Arts and Letters and the F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald Museum and have been featured online at The Short Form, Ploughshares, and the Authonomy Sunday Shorts Series by Harper Collins. Her fictions have appeared in some great journals. She is currently a Visiting Assistant Professor at Coastal Carolina University and working on several new books. Her and her dog June live by the beach. They are visited occasionally by turtles, herons, gators, foxes, frogs, swans, mud salamanders and humans.

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