We are sixteen and arrogant. We follow curiosity
in the cab of your F-150, skip what we told
our mothers about church. Our prayers are songs
pumped loud through speakers. We sing hymns
of Kurt Cobain, flush against our wind-flung hair.
Tonight there will be no God domestication, no tongues
of babel or hands held up in false expression. It is October
and dusk courts us. We believe in the damp smell
of earth and desire; our imagined cages of smallness.
At the end of Cherokee Street is an open mouth:
yours, mine, an iron gate. Here is a congregation
of quiet memories, where headstones stubble the hills.
We think: there is nothing to undo but ourselves.
Permission comes from nowhere – everywhere – to dance
under the wide moon. We become loud. Our dance
becomes song and our song is prayer. Is it Hecate
who grants us liminality, or that cloven-foot woman
we’ve heard so much about. (Don’t say her name. She’ll hear.)
The moon shows us verses, gray angels. A persimmon tree
points through plump gold fruit (gray in blue-black dark)
to four men lined single file, heads bowed. Under cassocks,
slim legs dissolve to white talc, then nothing. A ritual looped
and eternal rites chanted in familiar, unknowable sound.
You run and you run through the silver night, the dark
chrysanthemum blooms; fumble your keys like a wind chime.
You gun, she fishtails. We stumble from one night to another.
But what do we know of night. We live inside a dream,
too compact to let the air in or the devils out.
Flower Moon Fugue
I sing & my words sit in full bloom,
where the flower moon breaks into morning.
I sing grayed white plumes of polaroid you, pull back
black edges & watch flames splice air with a flick.
This bottle of Jack keeps dark from coming, where you
left me at the Illinois for your roving; to drift. I sing
you into the blood rose on my fingertip, raised from thorns
left on the roses for me like trouble at the edge of town.
& those boots so worn their red
turned brown – I put them on & clunk the rough
wood floors. I’m left with something so heavy
& the river says nothing holds back flood. & the rose
thorns, too, persist with each bloom, linger like trouble
on the edge of town. Puncture wounds dot fleshy pads
of fingertip – dark buds a fresh parting gift. Sprigs of mint
still slime your empty glass, & you left me:
girl with cigarette at the foot of the Illinois, to drift,
so you could drift. What keeps dark
from coming like my pack of Reds
& bottle of Jack as I flick this light,
watch flames black the crawled-back edge
of polaroid you, become a plume of white.
The flower moon sits in full bloom.
I sing & my words break into morning.
Sarah Rebecca Warren is a writer, educator, and musician. She lives in Norman, Oklahoma and teaches for Oklahoma State University. Sarah received scholarship to study at the Sewanee Writers’ Conference in 2016, and her writing has appeared in Gravel, BlazeVOX, Hobo Camp Review, Arcturus, and Oklahoma Today. Sarah is a regular contributor for World Literature Today.