Hillary Leftwich

Watch the Burn

Consider this: I grab your hand, placing palm up, scribbles in messy ink. No one can read this, you laugh. Exactly. But you remember oceans I’ve never seen, so I stand on tiptoes, tell you to stop smiling. Breaths apart. Think cold, frozen seas. Soft seagrass. And your eyes, all gloss and gold, search for some kind of landmark that points to your grief. But I remember super moons, cigarette smoke, zigzags. Look at me. Somewhere, a damsel’s dress is dropping. And you love fancy French biscuits, denim and dogwood, whistles under city bridges, cold clementines. The romance of vintage plagues. This is a story of you and me, striking all our matches. Watch the burn. And I’ll go anywhere with you. Just remember a place neither of us has been.

Lamb Mouth

The cold month is coming and we are all sick with God-brain. Strike the match, light the prayer candle, speak their names. Our ancestor altar allows for coffee and pound cake. There is solace being found alone. A small tree in a burnt clearing. My girlhood gone bad. My nightgown slid. Sap from the bark where the knife stuck. The red fabric thaws on crisp sheets. I never wanted a virus. Sick with honey and fevered lamentations. Me with my lamb mouth. Her with her wolf-heart. Don’t offer me a rose and call this love. This sanctity without blessing. I can taste the lamb blood on my lips. Red apples falling on orange leaves. Sweet, sweet. This is me stoking the fire. A sheep sacrificed in flames. Only comes clean when it burns.

Hillary Leftwich is the author of Ghosts Are Just Strangers Who Know How to Knock (CCM Press/The Accomplices 2019). She runs ☿ Al·che·my Author Services & Workshop and teaches creative writing at Lighthouse Writers. Some of her work can be found in The Rumpus, Entropy, Denver Quarterly, and Hobart. Find her at: hillaryleftwich.com

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Winter 2021