Nic Leigh


Two days in movement, by two, in the northern corner's stubborn winter. A slab of journeyers spat through the countryside to the drawl of the train. The slowish of the sky. The incessant apartment buildings' dung, not a dog even or a lawn or clouds. The wind in the loose trees, though, of them. The brush of the building against building that drains time. Wrought curves from Rome, New York, to Syracuse. Loneliness webbed around the heart that would knee even a stronger person. One piece of ironclad passengers who are enterprising, reseating themselves after stops clung in smoke. The scrapped landscape. The stop that arrives and at it in starched skirt floating at the calves and hi-tech sneakers with ankle socks the mother with the inaffectionate hand. A family of Mennonites, who, like Quakers, are people of the Book. Sufferers, sorts of brilliant sorrow, like God's son. Tenders of and to the earth. I, who wish you forever, riding you out, until we are both seen through. The fine veneer, thin as an insect wing, between us and infinite suffering. Long hardly breaths, searching in them for the stingy air. A house set apart with great resolve. Town's distant thatches of poles. Monotonously crouched and busy-fingered harvesters. Farming tools: trowels, rototillers. Pastry on wax paper and tea bags dropped to napkins oozing brown sunbursts of stain. The kingdom of God that takes house, without announcement, in your chest. What should never be a mystery, which is how religious lovers are. How you course the world as if riddled with imminent fraud. A misshapen human ring around the table. The orange warming of the windows from sunset. Round-beamed lamps shrouding a pinkbloodied rump of ham. An eyelet-pocked tablecloth. Sternness almost like a living thing. Every shimmering part of her snake-scaled hand as it passes the bowl reflecting the overhead light. The knife that shears a strip, as if you are peeling the peel of a fruit (is it you who saws through with such familiarity?). Whomever it is that is this grim slicer. Fingers that have suddenly sprouted more hairs. A late walk past the sizzling lattices of foam bubbles on the shore of the marsh. Good night in the hallway, narrow spirits, the plain communiqué that pain is more acute out here, because of the calm. A room that is just slightly not as nice as the others. The stir of the exact steps spaced of your exact steps of the bedroom above. Marsh woods waving blackly. The lowness of the ceiling so that every bit of the sag of the air is felt. The headache-causing detergentness of the bedspread. Fear like a spooked horse's fear. Lice, bringers of red death. Some wee in common between these lovers of God and you, who are still in delight at least of the sea, forests. On the distant edge of the marsh, a flickering fire—ignis fatuus. Ghost milky lights. From the asylum of bed, the thought of the dog five feet deep somewhere between the shed and the tree. The cheerless act of you dandling girls, tickling their satin palms with wheat whiskers. Dark dark things on your back in the farthest point of the field. A half-lived life already. The gaseous slim body of carbon monoxide wiggling through the bottom slit of the door. The resourcefulness of thinking the world without God is lost. To audit the ruins of the earth. To round up your organs. To ferret your way through the mucky search. Eternal years and counting, God, who operates hearts that operate hands that fuel furnaces with coal that emits fumes flowered with carbon monoxide. Recalling family vacations, women skinned alive by the sun. My all-American rich family that swims in hotel pools just feet from the ocean and hires South American immigrants to water their houseplants the way they used to water their own before being smuggled in trunks. A knowing that when you are being terrorized by the things of the world, you should not expect that it will be a God-fearer that comes for you. A neat row of horses. A neat row of horses. How the horses, a doe stare, can tell your fortune the way they are turned when you pass. The way they are facing now, in this vision, signaling that we will be delivered by whatever is plaguing us, but another thing will come in its place to plague us even more.