POETRY December 6, 2019

Sometimes, the angels doze in the quarry

& sometimes, evil rises from the valley
to perch, olive-winged, on her balcony.
Below them, Arizona blooms in a wash
of rust & ochre, far from the unsalted sea
you, in your faded hues, will wake to.
This is not a myth. She is not a dream,
though the air her body moves through
refuses to shut behind her. Look how
she holds out her hand, croons in a voice
filled with blades. Look how the bright-
throated bird flits to her wrist. If this were
a dream, you’d say, Don’t cross that river.
If this were a myth, it’d stay with you,
kernels lodged between your teeth: evil
given a name, & feathers. But this will be
an utterly ordinary day. Later, the sink
disposal jams, & when you reach a hand
down into the blades, you find only
a single olive. Every door in the house
wide open.

Born in Atlanta, GA, Robert Heald received his M.F.A. from the Helen Zell Writer's Program at the University of Michigan, where he was also a Zell Fellow. His work was chosen as a finalist in River Styx’s International Poetry Contest & has appeared in Vinyl, Muzzle Magazine, Reservoir Lit, & Assaracus. He lives in Washington, DC.