Between Battles

by Marigny Michel

Thread a twist of wire round a nail, tightened
three times to a tourniquet.
In this light blood looks dark green.
Persevere. I will not complain.

Miles from high ground we salvaged
the doses you distilled in a bottle balanced
on a bronze tripod draped with ruined shrouds of copper mesh,
verdigris on your mercy.
Dry cork disintegrates, home to a vespid queen.
Investigate: Wheels run backwards,
reverse time, invert light,
while a cat walks on paper
as Lion walked on words traced in dust by small hands.
Mena, mena, mina,
who shall live tonight?

When we choose our lamb,
I claim the femur, the scapula, and the skull.
From these I'll shape a cupel and assay
your ransom, what you carried in your mouth,
sewn into your long seams, your weeping sleeves,
the coins secreted, rings tied into your vagrant hair.
Smelted metal runs in a left-hand spiral
down the helix, up the drain.
The crow plagues me, calls for silver
to buy eggs and children.
He settles for shards of skeleton, what remains
after steel and hunger and ants have each had a mouth
at the ribs, at the belly, at the tender throat
of our disgrace.

Starved crow and slain lamb,
ransomed slave and captured queen:
Mene, mene, mina.
Who shall die tonight?

Marigny Michel studied in the Creative Writing program at UCLA as an undergraduate and graduate student. During that time, she won over a dozen poetry, fiction, and essay awards, as well as publication in two campus literary journals. Her earlier work as a songwriter gained favor from the Los Angeles Weekly and won a local award. She is currently completing a Ph.D. in Folklore & Mythology. Her work has appeared in The Louisiana Review, and is forthcoming in Calyx and in Hayden’s Ferry Review.

She says, "My favorite fruit? Stolen fruit tastes sweetest, especially if plucked from my aunt’s fig tree by a swarm of cousins and sisters, filling the stretched-out fronts of our tee shirts with heaps of sticky treasures. The loot is best if eaten peeled and swimming in fresh sweet cream using a silver spoon."

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