We’re falling out she said without going.
The damp concrete floor chilled tender bones—things
were off. Her chicken-wire cage twisted south
and ancient clothes shone white. Her tiny mouth
opened without sounds from her scar’s cold song.
Go if you want, he didn’t say, staying
stiff as a work light. Before today sings
its arid blues, one note, an unraveling truth
will scroll past your eyes like fictional news.
The program’s shorter than time. The play’s long.
Her small religion forbids the showing
of teeth. She can’t laugh. She gathers snow. Flings
it past a cracked window that almost pouts
at him. Glass rains like misbegotten vows.
Turning, his eyes miss her hands, where no rings
clutter their lifelines. Palms spread the play. Wings
hide a prompter in case the script goes wrong.
Mark J. Mitchell studied writing at UC Santa Cruz under Raymond Carver, George Hitchcock and Barbara Hull. His work has appeared in various periodicals over the last thirty five years, as well as the anthologies Good Poems, American Places, Hunger Enough, Retail Woes and Line Drives. It has also been nominated for both Pushcart Prizes and The Best of the Net. He is the author of two full-length collections, Lent 1999 (Leaf Garden Press) and Soren Kierkegaard Witnesses an Execution (Local Gems) and two chapbooks, Three Visitors (Negative Capability Press) and Artifacts and Relics, (Folded Word). His novel, Knight Prisoner, is available from Vagabondage Press and two more novels are forthcoming: A Book of Lost Songs (Wild Child Publishing) and The Magic War (Loose Leaves). He lives in San Francisco with his wife, the documentarian and filmmaker Joan Juster.