A Wassail in Ink
Nicholas Christian’s poetry has appeared or is forthcoming in The Lindenwood Review, Off the Coast, Poetry Quarterly, Gravel, Da˘mfiˉno, and Panoply. He lives in St Louis with his stuffed sea lion Gerald and his coyote Loki that thinks it’s a cat. He studies at the University of Missouri-st Louis.
A Wassail in Ink
And this is its beginning: a Vietnamese Ocean; the bottom rim stiff with starch grinding like rough glass against an old belt buckle, yes sweeping and moving in rhythm through the dark of a stone spiral street.
And there the cavalier waited, iron-red mouth brushing your waist and Avery Colt laughed into beer before the night church of Kansas knew even spoiled honey is sweet in black stilettos under sconces of electric tallow.
Our canoe was carved for sinking, certain your wet shoes remember walking into the dusk of gun-fire tasting the vanilla whorl of water lilies. And some braveries are old tears stranded and hungry on island sand, and words taken by the wind return possessions
in the rain, grown thick and resonant as stretching pelicans — we’ve landed on Bluebeard’s birch table, sure in opening one more door the joys of hearing Rumi ask what have I ever lost by dying? What choice but to sentence shining with fat our piles of bones
to the burning wood; now there is space for the tapestry of your back to fit my hand — learning language through the body set so close to the future there is only the dance of it. Which is all to say: these places are maps black from all this spilled ink
collecting in my cup full of little crows I’ve brought to your lips, meaning nothing more than we are seven words written when not looking.