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The Curse of the Magi Eva H.D.

The Curse of the Magi Eva H.D.



GEFFREY DAVIS Senior Managing Editor

MEGHAN E. GILES Managing Editors

2020 Poetry Trifecta



Copyright © 2020 Iron Horse Literary Review. All rights reserved. Iron Horse Literary Review is a national journal of fiction, poetry, and creative nonfiction. IHLR publishes three print issues and three electronic issues per year, at Texas Tech University, Lubbock, Texas, through the support of the TTU President’s Office, Provost’s Office, Graduate College, College of Arts & Sciences, and English Department.

The Curse of the Magi

i. The stars are fixed above and we are going nowhere. The slough of nowhere led us to the quagmire of desire and o god look— the stars. We cannot shake them. Will the light that purls between the teeth of the smartphones and the quinceaùera's crown ever leave us alone to fumble the dark between us like a hail mary pass? [I do not know the color of your eyes nor teeth and forget even that you have hands.]

ii. The counterfeit snow has played for us like a violin in an old film. Its notes are high and familiar and lean in for a polluted kiss; while the Russian speaks of bluebells blanketing Brooklyn. The toxic masterpiece another Chernobyl, spreading. I know the color of your hands, the delicate pianobones that ripple and crack like February stars.

The young people crowd you, mayflies, fresh exhausted faces measuring the light's advances like fallout. Pollution charms; gossamer the blossoms that blizzard your fine memory, its lamb’s hair, infinite, mutable. The woods catch us again, spit back the night anew. You practice a series of humiliations, self-imposed as April, remove your jacket, curse the clock. The clock wounds you personally. [Leave your hands to be with me. I will put them anywhere.]

iii. The snow tissued the land we walked. The snow knit overhead, gingerbread, torrefacted, prophesying: Your old king has grown rubicund with gout. Your halls of worship die of malnutrition, lit with the skins of blighted spuds and the caged children squeal into URL gags. The snow covered our tracks and eyelines. Foreshortened, forgave us.

iv. The forest whispered gossip from a page of American history, long-burned, the page that burned so brightly everyone mistook it for a star. And could not forget. We passed graveyards and committed the names to memory, as wine sat in your mouth like an IV bag.

v. At the border, one is questioned on particulars so specific and irrelevant one's eyes and mouth and heart begin to dance. Teller of tales. I'm heading for where the fields are golden and have been tortured into forgetting. Where even the acorn heart of the oak has been stripped of its own name and the leaves look like tongues and the sky is stone blue and ashamed to look down. No dawn sows a reapable midday; not at this rate; our hopes, once crystallized, pool. The desert is a myth made up of shyness, like introverts. At the border, one is waved on in.

vi. A disallowed goal, I hover, endure review, vacillate. Moth to your electric moth. We picnic, I paper my throat with grapeleaves. You abstain. [Scabs appeared on your body as if romanced.] Your skin blisters in its dark age and awaits the light of May—and the tall trees heighten the wind into storms, bandy it like a bet. The weather's rough love, the sand and snow and smoke in our eyes. You cough into another news-gored, rainteased morning, a taunting of abstraction in the blister broke shallow-fried parking lot. I flinch at the smell of gasoline as if it were small talk, a tongue. I laugh, fine work for a tongue, if you can get it.

There are those who await us, trucks, elbow grease men & women carabiner-clipped; the gospel choir plotting resurrection at the strangled church where ghost boys shoot degenerative hoops with Jesus, another ghost. On the outskirts of town, I’m told, our love is locked in a basement with the Kyoto Accord. We meld and separate, a marbled vichyssoise. The beaten horse of it, this infatuation. This nag.

vii. I'm told that children smell fear like a swimming pool, the green chlorine of it: they dive in. And the sapped tap of me, mapled.

viii. Were we too late for ourselves? Fearing a century that has already occurred. And the killing fields of our great loves, those we lost by mistake, by chance, those mouthed apples, those pigs we herded into sharpened maws and called it mercy. We have pored over the photographs of the bodies, meadows of them. We have watched the still death of them reanimate our dreams. The muck is moist, like the much-coveted brownie recipe, a cupcake. The birthday parties gorge themselves on shit & replicas. Rumour has it, we could have helped. Rumour has it, the killing fields thanked us for our support. We couldn’t have done it without you, they said.

ix. We tore at our hair so gently and fell ever more deeply in love. [Like voles. White-lying wrinkle in the telltale snow.] You deepened me, amidst the slaughter, a fingerling.

x. Our lunches have gone rotten, and there is a sweetness to the almonds with which we cannot contend. We can no longer accept it. Our daughters are not safe from their own minds. Our sons are burning up, like illfitted lamps. How we loved their smiles that were so meaningless and lightly scented in the early years, like hand lotion or the Billboard hits of the day. How their smiles tempted us to match them.

[The radiators burned the wet wool and gave off a scent of impending loss.] But we have lost our way. The maps have proposed a series of incorrect images, led us down the garbled path. Ever since we began. You and I. You and the road. Lost. (Googled into folderol, corrupted, chimeric.) The road is paved in obscurity. We knew this. And the light with it: a sublime hoax. The fields of frost and cubic zirconia and the menacing harvest and the sick, sick corn a mirage, dark fantasy—o the weight of clocks and your hovering hand.

xi. A daydream, you swell in me. I am talking to myself again, I say to you, and go on doing it, faceful of your face. I keep trying: to leave you alone, picked scab, my wanting hands on you at all times. A man cannot get rest, a break in this town. A man cannot have peace.

xii. I wonder if the world has dreamt us along with its other horrors—we walk and walk, past barns and trees and the purest of intentions. I try to lie low, like a snake, but my heart sings, as an oak does when it falls. The silken sky shifts, wettens, clears. Ripples like a bull, a welch, the woman who comes throughout your dreams. The sky gets wetter and shiftier and shoots for the three, one on none, misses. We walk for months; as men high on horse power pass in a cloud of blowcaine and sodapop, the culture leaking from their mufflers, a laughtrack.

This was the future, this farmer who bit us with electric wire, and unironic loathing. What an adventure! (Remember when we were young, and lived on their contempt? As though it were a dance step.) Now my feet tangle, and I curse the life I’ve built, imagine coming home to you, your mission figs, sorrow to blue the moon; and my shadow cooling your jets on the screened-in porch which juts out from our other life, unlived. [o your welling eyes that do not blue the moon] [you are bluer, a dark chestnut. you weep] I cover myself in proof, crushed ice, bitters, and await your sign like a vaccine.

xiii. I wait.

EVA H.D. wrote Rotten Perfect Mouth, won the Montreal International Poetry Prize for “38 Michigans,� and was a 2017 MacDowell fellow. She works in your favorite bar.

Iron Horse Literary Review would like to thank its supporters, without whose generous help we could not publish Iron Horse successfully. In particular, we would like to thank our benefactors and equestrian donors. If you would like to join our network of friends, please contact us at for information on the various levels of support. Benefactors ($300) Wendell Aycock Lon and Carol Baugh Beverly and George Cox Sam Dragga Madonne Miner Charles and Patricia Patterson Gordon Weaver Equestrian ($3,000 and above) TTU English Department, Chair Brian Still TTU College of Arts & Sciences, Dean Michael San Franciso TTU Graduate School, Dean Mark Sheridan TTU Provost’s Office, Provost Michael Galyean TTU President’s Office, President Lawrence Schovanec

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