I let a stranger unbecome a stranger.
because I am promised:
place in the Bible where Lucifer is kissing Jesus across the kitchen counter,
their angels circling useless in the blear hour of
“Oh my God—”
My stranger is mine.
I have reached our point of no return:
I am careless.
I am his--
who else to touch me, who else to--
release the hounds and change them by giving
them their first taste of blood?
I never intended to encounter wilderness like
steel traps under the snow, teeth rusted with bells of pink ice--
but I still join
the lantern eyed foxes in their glittered prowl at the treeline when you ask me,
when you say:
“Go. This is not your world.”
Call it blasphemy.
Call it betrayal or memory lapse, even
I am a fever: frantic, cold,
tied to the North,
bound at the wrists with piano wire,
and turned loose in the orchard; red dress between the trees.
Raise the colors of your hunt--
Come for me.
I will let this go--
traditionally, this will go
all night. A woman in red never dies
There must be a chase, she has to almost
make it out of the woods,
the goal isn’t quickly,
this is about ceremony.
Listen for the sound of applause
in the rising flames from
all those who’ve drown
clawing at doorframes
to get out.
The dead are trapped
The dead climb against the glass
of their photographs.
This part of the ritual is arson--
through which the dead divine the future
as smoke plunging from a horse’s nostrils and
formations of ash on the mirror.
What happens at the end of our love story
belongs to me.
There is nothing to explain,
no one listening and--
“Listen to me--”
When this is over, when this is a door, when we refer to distance--
I slam the door of my body against you.
I warned you--
of this hitch in the weather between winter and midwinter,
the color of the fall,
a lifetime of
if you could
save one thing from the fire
Jill Mceldowney is the author of the chapbook “Airs Above Ground” (Finishing Line Press) as well as “Kisses Over Babylon” (dancing girl press). She is a cofounder and editor for Madhouse Press. She was a recent National Poetry Series Finalist. Her previously published work has appeared in journals such as Muzzle, Fugue, Whiskey Island, the Sonora Review and other notable publications.