Poetry 2014 / Volume 45

Sister Saint — Heather Rick

The tape deck in your car has been busted since February and it plays only one song now, four whiskey chords and a drawl reflecting the curves of an Alabama ghost moon,
embedding in my head

the finality of winter,
the inevitability of winter,
the grandiose abandonment of winter.

And so I will write to you over the chords of that winter-repeating song to

remind you of when we emptied your bottles of small prayers and eight-dollar wine
and winter was submission to god.

February pisses the bed with me in it,

a bed in which I am perpetually awakening on a morning of sleet and hangover.
But these memories will cease repeating come spring,
evaporated into these girl-haunted walls,
nothing but purple-stained corks and lost earrings in my wake.

And whether I’ve returned to a Midwestern city that is a garden of steel flowers

or to Boston to read Proust to the punks patrolling Harvard Square
or if I’ve gone north to god’s country, to that frozen aurora of tundra-trodden souls,
you’ll never know for sure.

You’ll have to keep looking for me in the blank static at the end of a mixtape,

in the stacks of old Playboys that keep my Qur’an company in your house like a
contingent of paper houris.

Look for me in the image of Christ which stands in the frayed-carpet winter-daylight of your living room,
Jesus of the sacred heart,
his head broken off and replaced with a pair of monstrous deer antlers, the inscription around the base of the image reading,

“I will bless those places wherein the image of my sacred heart shall be exposed and venerated.”

Look for me in the burning of exposed hearts,
feel for me in the winterhouse of god,
pray for me in the songs on the tape deck.

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