She celebrates The Feast of the Epiphany tonight smoking on the lawn like lava in ocean waves, steaming from devotional currents and the depths of Step Nine. I'm on her list. Her hand moves out to the grass light fingers gripping dirty white veins returning the cold flames of alcohol memorized and baptized by a tepid heart, reveling in the Infant Virgin's honor, but not mine. She watches the proper prattle emerge, the urgent, sedate stirrings from my mouth, a wordy conservatory where the tongue malingers, evading the habits of the sisters, who protect her faith, but not the absence of mine among the 108 malas I carry. She smiles at the visiting wise men, the old father-priests, black birds in the hedges plotting to show me all over again the growing list of feral, red-breasted saints. I should not have come back. She flirts with the topiaries of prey, meandering, anything not to land on why I'm here, preparing to ravage the valleys of her skull with another flute of bubbling time. You invited me, I say. Her gilded cross hangs low between her breasts to perform miracles, a divine prerogative, over the vital space where old heartbeats echo scars of sutures, proof that my son's blood had pumped there once, too. I should go, I mean to say. But rise instead to plonk a namesake down against the torn shade: I'm past the 33 island knots of thorn and rock, grackles peck the dry fountain, only questions left to drink.
Disorder in C-Sharp Minor
My pill waits in a bone china dish, like a wire on a bird the chord pulls struck the morning into view until it's inevitable. The branches of the hemlock perfect and still as they ask how music paralyzes them. I move with precision through things, like a composer who dies in his sleep, unaware of the Grand Pause as the dream he was when his heart burst was not his; the organ stood in the piano and strings. It was rushed headlong on ice to the next life, a cadenza. I begin to play a new piece; one no needle will ever hear. The tree bows to listen against the light, and no fine stems fall to the grass. I hold on to grace the sticky sounds of my true notes, the best incarnation of rhythms, of morning breezes in the sentimental light. But my pill waits, still. It is the splinter, or the minor key, standing among a crowd of children green until they curl about my feet, dozing into the roots, unfurled, gripping tight enough to bear the sun and its whitest light smile until the pill is my hand taken, and the crystalline, sloping visions erupt into spokes of shimmering candor.
Mikal Wix lives in the American South. Their work can be read in Corvus Review, Peregrine Journal, Berkeley Poetry Review, Tahoma Literary Review, Roi Fainéant Press, decomp journal, Olit, Queerlings and elsewhere. As an old science editor and associate poetry editor, they collect literary anthologies from bygone eras.