Paul: an unpublished letter (for Stephen) by Nancy Hightower

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my lashes, suddenly full of angel dust,paul-an-unfinished-letter224x508

crust into scales. your face wraps

around my eyes, seals shut the lids,

traps the wrath of my justice underneath.

chaos swirls into shadows, and i scurry about

like one of  the three blind mice,

arms lifted, fingers spread,

searching for a place in your dim outline

to hide me,  to escape the inevitable,

the tail cut, my life maimed.

the butcher’s wife keeps dancing,

stabs forward, fist curled,  her hate

not being of the personal kind…

though she had to use that bloody knife,

knew it was meant for something grim.

i blessed your lynch mob

when they came–hand raised, palm held out

go forth, go forth, see how they run.


now, i am frozen in all this light.

the white cup shattered,

my grave opens,

and for three days and nights

i swim in darkness, like jonah–

mud and spit can only go so far.

some visions want blindness,

need mind-madness to calm the killing logic.

your head broke under the weight of our stones,

savage righteousness splitting spirit from soul;

and the King’s men all waiting to gather your pieces.


dreams scatter.

my sight slips back into focus,

but i will forever have this thorn in my side:

no matter what the grace or forgiveness—

i can never put you back together again.


AUTHOR BIO: Nancy Hightower is an art columnist for Weird Fiction Review and has had work published in Word Riot, Strange Horizons, Prick of the Spindle, storySouth, and Bourbon Penn, among others. Her first novel, Elemantarí Rising, will be published in summer 2013 by Pink Narcissus Press.