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Mary Stone Dockery

Winter myths

We made love against mirrors.

We captured cicadas to add to boring recipes.

You broke a silver spoon across my back. My vertebrae shifted, each one growing its own wing. You plucked the feathers one at a time and ate them, the taste of sky. Whiskey-drenched intimacy.

We re-named ourselves after guitars. Strummed tree bark with numb fingers. Beneath rotted trees.

Decaying barns fell around us. Splinter. We took pictures of barn bodies. Pasted them to our walls.

Maps of your hands flickered. Black lights. Cigarettes. Kissing in the dark. We bought moonstones by the hundreds. Fed them to our mothers and our fathers.

We built Decembers in the basement, furnace dolls and fever blooms. Each November smoldered against our hands. Ash-heavy. Leaf-ridden. We sold what we could on the street, colonies of cigarette burns braided into our hair. We made potpourri out of the leftovers. June June.

We destroyed dresses, hem-lined with pearl iridescence, anything with the scent of fingernail polish. We dabbed our palms in gasoline. Waited for bone wreckage. Its long silences. A sparrow flying through an empty living room.

Our Home Becomes an Island

You grill lobster early, dragging shrimp from the sea. Large nets lasso our front porch.

The beach shifts overnight. Dream seaweed, birds returning.

Water reminds me of breaking. On the new shore, water turns from blue to charcoal. People jump off roofs into the wet. Piles of clothes float like clumps of seaweed. We hear many children screaming.

We have been to Carolina. Want it braided into us. Want the edges and sand-burned shores to collapse our home. You reminisce. Smudged hands. Dry paper.

Water smells of tornadoes, of land-locked yachts.

We write odes to past lovers. You burn the paper, toss it into the water, like so much searching, like so many voices dropping into a bowl. The emptying of a home is a baptism we keep reliving. We eat tuna. Walk on the backs of whales.

If only, Carolina. Instead, I empty ghosts from my wound. Bury rosaries in sand.

We build sails on the roof. Waves fling pearls against our windows. Click, click.

Another child is born in North Carolina. Its jellyfish limbs poison its mother's skin. Wet burns. Barnacles raking fist-shaped lungs.


"Concealing an illness is like keeping a beach ball under water."
-Karen Duffy

Diagnosis #1:

Morning, no breakfast. A whole day still to spend. Walking around as if the streets are covered in clouds. Where are the bruises? I asked. But they had shifted beneath our feet, slipper wounds.

Blue, in dictionary terms, is merely a word to describe a wall, a sky. Not to swell over a body, to splotch across cheeks, shins, knuckles.

The voices appeared after the injection. I was not sure how to hold him down after each seizure. My belly filled with shadows. Instead of thinking about before, he drowned the memory in baby oil.

I wanted to eat the spreading illness I found. There is only one medication and it expands in his throat, unfolding.

Diagnosis #2:

The wind was light and I could carry it in my pocket with the scent of flowers. I could touch it to my cheek. But I could not feel it against my legs. In winter, the wind crisp with bells of ice, my shins remained paralyzed.

She, I will call myself, mornings from now till then. In this, she is broken but the blue spins across her, tornado-like. Cleansing. She can remember the look on his face when she first caught him stealing twenty dollars from her purse. There are robins at the tombstone, staring. She walks with wind, with height.

There are many ways of saying "addict." Say, Problem. Say, Indulgence. Close your eyes and mouth I love you to the wind. Blue is a sound in our mouths. He is silent.

There is no one to blame. Perhaps there is only what we can see, nothing really whisking within. Tomorrow the curtains will be washed. Dust-free, things only sit to collect more, to get heavier. In this, we are stirring.

➥ Bio