“Horrendas canit ambages.”
“She chants her dread enigmas.”
Aeneid VI, 99
Salt monks chant—as quiet as time—
Stone voices inhabit old stones.
She stares through waxed smoke at a bowl
of small words from lost tongues. Tears bind
them into riddles that define
the rite. She knows she must not eat
them. Her hands ripple. She repeats
the chant. Words melt like smoke, like fire.
Stirring in sheets her high school choir
breaks her to wake. The dream’s complete.
Mark J. Mitchell studied writing at UC Santa Cruz under Raymond Carver, George Hitchcock and Barbara Hull. His work has appeared in various periodicals over the last thirty five years, as well as the anthologies Good Poems, American Places, Hunger Enough, Retail Woes and Line Drives. It has also been nominated for both Pushcart Prizes and The Best of the Net. He is the author of two full-length collections, Lent 1999 (Leaf Garden Press) and Soren Kierkegaard Witnesses an Execution (Local Gems) as well as two chapbooks, Three Visitors (Negative Capability Press) and Artifacts and Relics, (Folded Word). His novel, Knight Prisoner, is available from Vagabondage Press and a new novel is forthcoming: The Magic War (Loose Leaves Publishing). He lives in San Francisco with his wife, the documentarian and activist Joan Juster where he makes a living showing people pretty things in his city.