ignis fatuus

by Rachel O’Brien

In the event of my demise,
there is a place you will need to know about.

I am telling this to a tree,
or to an empty playground.
or maybe I am washing myself in the neon
of a liquor store sign and telling this to the bars on its windows.
My shadow and I circle each other.
4 AM is the same no matter where it takes place.
It will always yield a dead street where my newest confidant
waits silently for me to deliver my last will and testament.
One of them has paper, one of them is taking this all down.

In the event of my demise, I tell them,
There is a certain mountain peak where lightning
took a fire lookout down to its foundations.
I have a need for symmetry.
Lay my broken body on the highest stones,
among the globs of melted glass,
the place where there is nothing between me and the storm.
Take down this arcature of ink,
the bare walls beneath, this heavy henge of bone,
and wait.
A sweet cedar breath will rise up from the valleys and lift what is left of me,
all moth wing, all buzzard feather, the tissue of a hornet’s nest,
and carry me off.

My drunk bleary brain knows that there is only one exit from which I will leave.
My soul must screech out of this world
from the top of that mountain,
into the howling sky, into the pelting rain.

Other times the call was downward:
to step off the bridge into february waters;
to supplicate and offer up the disgraceful contents of my guts,
at the altar of the toilet, to the gods of bourbon and vitriol;
to see my reflection in the busted stiletto heel I left stuck in a grate.

But now I am certain I want to go out the same way I came in,
when I was born someone lifted me up to inspect me in the light,
and I should die under the same circumstances.
I have a need for symmetry.

Weaving between soup kitchen sinners and the fortune tellers card tables
I wind my way to these trusted sentinels,
and beg them to lift me.

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