Four days with no word and all that’s left of the orchard
is a lamb carcass filled with fruit. Even the woodlarks
have washed away, medallions in the throat of a river.
What sort of death do you have in mind for them?
By dawn again the sun has plucked each vein wedded
to surrender. Manic seeds become stars casting off
and day five ends in the asylum of a pear. This place
has just begun to know thirst. Days six, seven, and eight
starve for a month, tangled in the wild neck of abandon.
Their thoughts turn to the unrung sky, how something
far away can still be so heavy. Whereupon you learn
the empty plum trees are pretending to be chandeliers
but in conclusion the lights have gone out and out and out.
The boning of a weathered barn thinks charcoal and after
some time thinks elephant fossil and some time later
thinks, without a body my voice is soft as wind.
Day nine wears a diadem of horseflies and wilts against
the palisade before a hill, repeating only the dead know
what they cannot live without
. Day sixteen carries a spear,
hunting. The dry earth roars and roars. In the maelstrom
of silence that follows, perfumed grasses weave their own
effigies and wonder what shape prayers take after
they’ve been said. Day thirty-three tells the story of a whale
so hungry for God that it swallowed a man down whole.
Days thirty-four and thirty-five fight over the auspices:
the birds are returning or they aren’t returning with you
or erstwhile the birds gave up carrying omens.
Day thirty-six says blasphemy blasphemy and tears
into the hardened riverbed, conceding to the dark.
Day thirty-nine swears the air feels burdened with rain.
Day forty turns over and stretches open and waits.


Jessica Bixel’s recent work has appeared or is forthcoming in Birdfeast, Parcel, Handsome, Sink Review, and Houseguest.