Canticle

By Lindsey Warren

Morning was as plump as a fruit. Sunlight passed through the oak leaves and became them. Sky was mother and daughter and gave themselves across all blues.

Beneath the shade of the tiger lilies growing in the back yard the Archangel Gabriel waved his hands at me, his form no bigger than a snail, his wings mere shimmers. His tiny lips moved, but I could not hear what he was saying. So I scooped him up with my hands and placed him inside the largest lily’s speckled ring of petals. The enclosure’s acoustics captured his exclamations, amplifying them, the sound of his voice a music of water. Hail, beloved, I have come to tell you

Mid-sentence, with his mouth still open, Gabriel closed his eyes. His wings wavered, his  hands extended toward the air. He felt the currents of his own voice ripple across his face, he let them wash over his mouth. He knelt down deep toward the tiger lily’s stem, reaching for it in adoration. Ah, he almost said, his eyes still closed. He stretched out face-down on the petal.  

This is how you found me, Archangel: transfixed in the seep of day, listening to a voice after I had offered it up. Your new heaven is alive with ears. We share the same prayer.

Stone and Moonlight

He placed the paintbrush on the desk, took a step back and examined the canvas. Curls of green snakes for hair, milky blindness for eyes, skin like shadowed granite—Medusa snarled, immobile, by the dim lamp. Any minute now, he whispered, his own eyes wide and ringed; he thought of how the serpents would wriggle in the air once the Gorgon stepped out of the canvas.  How sonorous her hisses would be. How close to the edge of death he would walk with her slithering in the bedroom. He bit his lip thinking of all the marvels that would light up his flesh, his body alive again, after so many years.  

He stared at the painting. Medusa’s body remained motionless, the snakes for her hair reclining as if poised for attack. Across the room, the door to the bathroom was open slightly.  He thought of the moon in the sky, and how much of it could be seen that night. He placed his hand over his chest and began to rub it, his fingers kneading his breastbone.
 
Meanwhile, his wife gazed into the bathroom mirror. Her hair fell dark on her shoulders, her lips were detached from expression, her face bathed in a storm of moonlight fallen through the ceiling window. The mirror felt her eyes, and its sheen doubled in the light. The moon vibrated, a silent witness. The stars like salt over her solitude.


Lindsey Warren is a graduate of Cornell University’s MFA program.  She has been published in Rabid Oak, Josephine Quarterly, American Literary Review and Hobart, among others, and her poetry manuscript Unfinished Child is out from Spuyten Duyvil. Lindsey has been a finalist for the Delaware Literary Connection Prize and the Joy Harjo Prize.