portion of the artwork for Emily O'Neill's poetry

vagrant magic
Emily O’Neill

take back your knife. blood is not the only road
to a heart. spells can be cast; letters buried. once, I broke
a window and you called it sex. once, I drank the South

down like a gutter gulps rain. you say orphan, but there’s an answer
for that: in your shadow, I see each country you’ve walked
barefoot. I know this coal dance of yours, what wasp

snuck poison into your shirt. when homeless, you pray
to any harbor that will have you. make saints of all your empties.
god doesn’t like it when you leave lights on all night, but you can’t

sleep. you fell into it again—with a paper lantern, a church steeple,
a whiff of jasmine tea passing your table. the haunting bleeds
into your sheets. once, I pressed my lips to wet paint. a spell

cast to steal the world trailing in your wake. we are alone
when you say it—the quiet nothing your liquored
tongue found best at rest’s doorstep. you would

be mine
… bliss hinged on hesitation. no trees here. no low-
hanging fruit. no snake to blame my hunger on. love comes
too late, a forked truth. you wrote me two letters. first, I cannot stand

the way your skin shifts like fuel under a flame
. and that last
vagrant magic, you will never leave my mouth.

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FRiGG: A Magazine of Fiction and Poetry | Issue 38 | Fall 2012