Jessica Goodfellow Writes Poetry with Personal Ties
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Cri de Coeur

“My poetry may start with a topic, a phrase, or even just a sound,” says Jessica A. Goodfellow (BA ’87). “I never know ahead of time what it’s going to be.” Goodfellow’s trajectory from math and economics to poetry was unusual but not surprising. She had loved creating poetry as a child. Even before she could write, she’d ask her mother to write down her poems for her. She returned to the craft after getting graduate degrees in economics and linguistics and moving to Japan to teach English.

In her fourth and latest published collection, Whiteout, she considers the loss of her uncle Stephen A. Taylor (BS ’67), a BYU graduate who perished in the tragic Wilcox Expedition on Denali. More of her work can be found at

Crows, Reckoning

A crow remembers who crowded it out of the trash can,

who cast at it sticks and rocks and rockets fashioned from bottles.

Long after you have forgotten, the crow remembers your face,

Illustration of two crows on a branch.
Artwork by Curtis Bay

the space between your eyes, the rise of your cheek,

your beakless maw, and with caw both credo and cri de coeur,

the crow causes you to recall that gardens are, by their nature,

not nature, but the cult of cranium over creation,

a human rebuke cloaked in clover and cockscomb and crocus.

A crow says, If a garden is not god-wrung, then who

seeded the Garden of Eden, crux of the human cradle,

till ceded by Adam and even then who, do you suppose,

forespoke the stain of Cain if not a crow, or a murder

of crows.

Artwork of a snow covered mountain.


“Regret has to be useless or it’s not really regret.” —Simone de Beauvoir

Rescuers did not find my uncle’s body.

But they found his axe at an icy altitude

impossible to navigate without one.

A little higher up, they found my uncle

’s sleeping bag at an altitude

unsurvivable without one.

You likely have a pen in purse or pocket.

Take it out and write a list of all

you need at your present altitude.

Next, change altitudes. Now, make another list:

the two biggest regrets of your life.

Take your time. Get it right. Because

here is all you need to know about need:

That list of regrets—cross one off.

You are going to need that space later.

Note: “Crows, Reckoning” was first published in Diode. “Unreachable” was originally published in the Nashville Review under the title “Altitude” and is included in Whiteout.