Christopher Woods writes poetry, plays, and fiction. His novel, The Dream Patch, was published by Bowen/Corona Company (1985) in San Antonio. His work has appeared in New England Review, The Southern Review, New Orleans Review, and others.
We prayed for the dead on earnest beads. Sometimes, our pleas came early, mid-coma for a stranger. We offered supplication for the souls of those who, in their passing, brought us our employment, pocket money, hours free from Nazi nuns at the parish school.
Souls of those, who, in their passing, gave us mystery too. Matters of soul, things breaking loose, then drifting away, farther than our black robes and white starched surplices could take us most school days.
They have no need to speak of milestones passed. Or gloat where air is sour, full of smoke and the breath of champagne.
Unlikely they will migrate from old haunts to new cul de sacs in bland new towns where trees have never grown.
No use for shimmering rocks strung on string around their necks. Or the zigzagging car, humming with computer wit.
Their victory is unheralded in silent fields alive with night. It rustles with leaves, wind, and utterly blind faith. Song of things decomposing, then beginning again.
Song they have no need of singing.
What is the color of thirst? For a long time, I had no idea. But once, backed into darkness, I did not feel fear, or even the lure of phobia.
Instead, the color blue came to me, pounced in fact, and remained. I had not considered the fact of color enough in those days.
Blue it was, and still is. A metaphor that adapts. When clenched things loosen, if hope should wobble. How thirst seems to come and roost, with no plans to leave.
The Fire That Night
After another car passed and the night was whole again, we set to work. Whistling an asphalt song. We poured gasoline, can after can, from the truck. Not smoking, any of us. Holding our breath instead. Fumes stung our skin worse than the wind.
This was our practice run, on the old farm-to-market road. If all went well, we would douse I-20 next. It lay across the land like a silver dagger. Waiting. Who knows, maybe even willing.
Our cans empty, fire genies released, someone shouted in the dark as the match was struck. We ran like deer. Over a fence, across a night blue field, wallowing in high grass. Ahead of us, in the distance, lights from a farmhouse glowed like squares from Klee.