PARADISE WOODS

JILL MCELDOWNEY

Say there is a ritual that will raise the dead.

I mean danger.
I mean divination—
that is what I am here for.

To begin
I need
……………………………………………………………………a volunteer,
……………………………………………………………………gunpowder, a rope,
……………………………………………………………………and only a mirror

can tell you what the dead are thinking.

I am a woman disguised as prey, cardinal, the bare of teeth. I am
her; the red fox,
tail set on fire
and turned loose in the cherry orchard behind the house

……………………………………………………………………where I once watched a fox and a horse,
……………………………………………………………………both wounded during the hunt,
……………………………………………………………………struggle toward dawn.
……………………………………………………………………It was inevitable.

……………..The horse stood trembling, had caught his leg in a toothed snare intended for the fox,

and she limped
on three legs, smelling of gasoline, a book of matches
between her teeth.

Give
me the illusion of choice.
This is the fire I set myself
on fire—

JILL MCELDOWNEY is the author of the chapbook Kisses Over Babylon. Her work can also be found in Vinyl, Corium, Ghost Proposal, Fugue and other notable publications.