Mark J. Mitchell
The folded skin goes out quick as the flame
that once haunted a candle you forgot
outside one rainy Wednesday when you caught
the flu. Your hands try to hold it, the same
way they reach for a foul ball that still drops—
it always drops. You’re sure skin should be taut—
a drumhead, a violin string. You blame
this dream. Don’t snap awake too soon. It’s not
a movie projected on closed eyelids—
it’s your real long arms leaving you behind,
legs aching to be naked as your mind
to air, muscles and veins. Don’t be afraid—
not now. It’s the strange fruit of what you did
before you knew light, before you were made.
One reaching, one running, white commas split
the bay like infinitives. The red bridge
grading its gate, correcting tides. Low haze
checks hills, but their shapes, round and green, stay sharp
as pens in the afternoon light. This bright place
is enough. While sails pass on their blue page,
you’ll pass down this hill pluperfectly glad.
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 two more novels are forthcoming: A Book of Lost Songs (Wild Child Publishing) and The Magic War (Loose Leaves). He lives in San Francisco with his wife, the documentarian and filmmaker Joan Juster where he makes a living showing people pretty things in his city.