from unsplash (Ri_Ya)
I must go back to the last exit and send along the tow truck to retrieve you. Please be patient while I unfold the paper map— no cell service out here— and plot your route home. On the hood of the old overheated SUV, I darken the path with my Dixon-brand pencil and hand the map over. Perhaps the engine will start once it’s cooled. Follow these directions please. If you take a wrong turn, whisper my name, and like Siri, I’ll direct you there. Repeat my name during those fits of laughter that will return again. One cannot remain lost forever. Remember my fuzzy hair, sense of direction, explosive sneezes, and tears of joy at the most inappropriate moments. Listen and watch until the engine starts or the tow truck retrieves you from the side of the road. Stay here.
We have climbed the mountain and stood on its bent apex in the billowing wind
You’re there with that white flag and your longer hair waving in the wind. You said "we" reached the summit, but everyone knows that’s a lie, a cover story. No one could love Grendel, yet despite the attacks— I burned your flesh and leveled your future— you held onto my hand, and took each blow. You invited me to dance in your dark room—candles flickered and the bed was made—and you waited for the canine to leave the blood, waited for the beast to begin metamorphosis. Words that you carved into wood, painted onto dishes, were delivered along with the skin of your back, now tattooed with my nine-letter first name. The never-ending war did in fact end when you drank from my cup without fear of consequence, and the knife you held out was pointed at our own chest. It’s time to rest. I sit at the base of the mountain chewing on a strand of my hair waiting for the battle with the dragon. That is what comes to those who dare love a beast. We have dug through rocks, roots, and bones to feel the earth's churning, burning core This heart is gray with glittery flecks, and since it’s buried, it doesn’t rust, doesn’t call attention to its rapid beatings or fluttering, doesn’t appear to be affected by stress. Don’t be fooled— someday all the sorrow will spill into crevices, volcanoes, and trenches, and it will explode, sending iron out to the stars. Bio: Cat Dixon is a Pushcart Prize and Best of the Net nominee. She is the author of Eva and Too Heavy to Carry (Stephen F. Austin University Press, 2016, 2014) and the chapbook, Table for Two (Poet's Haven, 2019). Recent work published in Sledgehammer Lit and Whale Road Review. She is a poetry editor at The Good Life Review.