The John Pratt Mosaic House in Midland, MI

glistens from the highway. John glued Faygo bottle caps, frosted glass marbles, and shivs of Blue Willow China around the façade of his childhood home. Orange ceramic butterflies surround the front picture window, hex nut clusters hang from eavestroughs in the shape of grapevines, and bleeding-heart buds weave around the mauve backdoor.

One scene has fractured mirrors from horizon to heaven. The dense evergreens surrounding the house reflect a living picture. In cozy summer greens and gray-bark winters, bright white sheep from crushed dinnerplates walk the foreground. Among them, Jesus with kind coffee-mug-handle eyes. Jesus looks down lovingly, holding a lone black lamb.

This house was the vision of John’s mute schizophrenia. I hear him speak through each piece.

Venus of the Midwest

I rose from the floes of Lake Michigan
in a shapeless duckweed shawl.

My limbs, unstoppable and blanketing,
like lake effect snow.

In my post-plague dreams,
I find my own Botticelli who paints me

unembellished without omissions—
haggard eyes, dimpled thighs,

scraggly curls, and a ribcage
that realistically houses organs.

I sprawl across bales of straw
with a Culver’s ButterBurger

and pose with extravagant bouquets
of aster, milkweed, and beebalm.

I varnish my own cherub face
to weather the turpentine rain.

My smile is subdued. This nasally deity
could be someone’s everything.

Photo by Raimond Klavins on Unsplash.

Justine Defever

Justine Defever resides in Michigan and is an Associate Professor of English. Her poetry has been recently featured in North American Review, Sad Girl Diaries, Quarter Press, and Roi Fainéant, among others. She holds a Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing from Arcadia University. Check out her website and Instagram.