Steve Nicks Pastoral after Someone Found Needles in My Backpack & Asked if I Was Using Drugs

If you close your eyes, you will drag the sun down into your hands & hear accordions galloping through the enveloped basin of water slowly mousing its way westward to the Pacific Ocean. At the end of the Tusk tour in 1980, Stevie Nicks’ septum was coke-rotted & breaking, her voice gone from a cascading-water-smooth to a dead-zoned-radio-static-rasp. Tusk, an album embalmed with fillings that make the record bloated like a casket body. Someone at Sully’s Burgers in Forks, Washington told me Stevie showed up in the early eighties with half a nose & prayer beads. I didn’t believe him until I stood on the edge of the Hoh River in the April cold & thumbed the hardened skin of my abdomen, pressing hard, trying to push the testosterone bubbling at the surface into my body quicker, begging to hide scars coiled like calligraphy spelling out this isn’t what it looks like. When I lay in bed on early Ohio mornings, as cats claw at my windowsill & cardinals peek in from the oak trees, I go back to that river to feel weightless, to watch the thin mountain air erase the red from my body. My mother once told me you could hear God in the mountains. Well, God was a voice singing wait a minute baby, stay with me a while. God was a breeze tasting like blood metal or a syringe needle. Mother, there is a gleam of sun I cannot describe, but I want you to know it pulled me into the water & baptized my American honeyed skin so I could be eaten & made whole. I rose from the current & looked upon the crack of a golden Washington smile & tucked myself into it. In my dreams, I am always standing at the edge of a river & Stevie is singing before me. I wear the sun on my arms & expect my skin to reject the burning.

Matt Mitchell is a writer from Ohio. His work appears in, or is forthcoming to, venues like NPR, The Shallow Ends, BARNHOUSE, Empty Mirror, Frontier Poetry, Homology Lit, and Glass: A Journal of Poetry, among others.    WEB