Explore O:JA&L’s Buttonhook Press offerings on Amazon.
Subscribe to the O:JA&L YouTube channel.
Become an O:JA&L Member through Patreon.

Shawna Ervin


Cocoon by Rene Cheng

Plastic chair in windowless police station
interview room, a pen rolls across
photocopied drawing of teenage girl,
arms by her sides, eyes vacant, hair limp,
naked. I pinch my thighs under the table, bite
the inside of my cheek. I remember phone call
asking for help, for pastor dad preaching, eyes closed,
palms lifted in prayer, the shape of his palms
purple on my back and legs. Congregation
shivered with Praise Jesus; my toes wriggled
in pinched shoes. Poverty made us pure, hunger
refined out wants. Anger slips across my smile.
One quick circle on the drawing,
another, I push the pen toward truth
that can no longer be pretended away.


About the writer:
Shawna Ervin has an MFA from Pacific Lutheran University. She is a poetry reader for Adroit Journal and founding faculty of the Tupelo Press Teen Writing Center. Shawna is an alum of Bread Loaf and Tin House. Recent publications include Bangalore Review, Tampa Review, Cagibi, Synkroniciti, Rappahannock Review, The Maine Review, Sweet: A Literary Confection, and elsewhere. Shawna lives in Denver with her family.

Image: Cocoon by Rene Cheng (contemporary). Oil on canvas. No size specified. 2019. By free license.

OJAL Art Incorporated, publishing since 2017 as OPEN: Journal of Arts & Letters (O:JA&L) and its imprint Buttonhook Press, is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit corporation supporting writers and artists worldwide.

Become an O:JA&L Member through Patreon.