top of page

Your Jesus Year

By Abigail Myers



The end has begun to come for you:

eyes leaning a lash deeper into your skull,

still-lush hair nevertheless creeping from your brows.

She knows it. When you stand on the threshold

of the house you built for her

in the mountains, an hour outside the city,

she watches you wait and counts your

thirty-three years. Happy birthday,

she says, I baked a butcher bird in a cake for you,

and opens the door to you. You don’t have a key.

You didn’t ask for one, happy to wait

on her doorstep while she kneads dough and casts spells.

You built her the house because you have been to the city

and know how the water laps lazy on the quays,

topped with beer foam and cigarette ends—

you know how in the mountains

the water tumbles down the ancient monk-kissed rock

and pools in the lake, clear and still, fills cauldrons,

composes hearty soups, holds blood and piss,

fills in the spaces between bones in graves.

Your dog trots up behind her. He loves her more now,

maybe, you think. He lifts his old paws to your hips,

and you think, no, surely he loves me, still. Right?

You follow her to the kitchen. Sure enough, there’s a cake.

Brigid’s cross on the wall, woven tight from rushes, just so.

Her clothes beginning to puddle on the stone floor

where her knees meet the earth. You’re home, she says,

and her hair brushes the top of your feet.

For now, you agree, dipping your finger into the edge

of the frosting. Where are you going now,

she asks. You know. Everywhere, you say.

She says she had a dream. Two hills. A pike. A cave.

Don’t go. She says it on her knees, looking up.

You can’t meet that gaze, not from her—

pleading, eyes like a well, without bottom

or forward motion. You look to the left—

there beside your picture on the windowsill

she has tied bunches of sage for long life,

rosemary to fight bad vibes.

You remember the wheels of the plane

scraping along the tarmac, jet lag so profound

that you didn’t know the day or the time

except that the land was green even in the dark.

You remember how kind everyone was

except when they weren’t, gazes that lingered too long

then turned away, towards someone easier to consume.

She says, I won’t be able to protect you from this.

You lay a hand on her forehead, ease your palm

over her hairline like a dark cut between her white temples.

What do you want me to do, you ask, and she says,

Don’t go, and you say, Besides that.

She sighs, wraps her arms around your knees,

a warm vine that would tether you to the tree

of her life if she could, lays her head against your thighs.

Go you must, you think. To hurt and to heal,

to conquer without dividing. So many

hoping to hear the good news

that they do not need to wait to be loved.

You will give it to them. You are not afraid,

not of anything except that your dog will forget you,

or that someone else will build her a finer house

at the foot of a more handsome mountain.

So you say, You know I’ll be back. She says,

I don’t. You say, Let’s have some of that cake

and go to bed. I’ve missed you. You’re beautiful.

She pushes herself to her feet, says nothing

but reaches for the knife. I’ll be back, you say again.

You want a ring? You know it doesn’t matter to me,

but— She laughs. You wouldn't wear a ring again.

Get one of those tattoos, maybe. You shrug.

Maybe that instead. Either way, I would.

She sinks the knife into the cake. The bird,

a pearl of frosting tipping its black beak,

whips itself around the kitchen until you open

a window (Christ, it’s heavy, you think,

that leaded glass, original to somewhere)

and flies, silent screaming, back to wherever

she’d enchanted it. She watches it go

before the knife hits the platter. Anyway,

she says, and from beside the charms she pulls

a key on a loop of red ribbon, a knot as hard as a nut

tied at one end. In case I’m not here

when you get back, smelling of spices and damp.

You take it, let it sit in the hand with which you smoothed

her hair. It’s warm. Active. Enchanted as the bird.

She hands you a white plate, the cake

spilling mascarpone cream along the edge.

I hope I’m wrong, she says. But take the key.

Just in case. I gave it powers—not enough

to loose you from a cross or raise you from the dead,

but enough to make them think twice, at least.

Everything shall be returned threefold

including you, I hope. Go. I’ll wait.

You take the cake. Mascarpone cream, your favorite.

Listen:

Thrust roots through the stone floor

into the heart of the mountain.

Marry her. Invite your parents and the bitter old priest.

Have her weird sister fast your hands

with a length of the same red ribbon around the key.

Watch some TV. Take some walks.

Give her a child. Eat cake on your birthday.

Don’t die. Not yet.



 


Abigail Myers writes poetry, fiction, and creative nonfiction on Long Island, New York. Her stories have recently appeared in Milk Candy Review and Heart Balm, and are forthcoming from Roi Fainéant. Her essays have appeared in Phoebe and Variant Literature, and are forthcoming from The Other Journal. Her poetry has appeared in Amethyst Review, Full Mood Mag, Sylvia, Icebreakers Lit, and more. Keep up with her at abigailmyers.com and @abigailmyers.

bottom of page