The Magic Words

by Claire Dixon

I want someone
far older than I am
to call me to his bedside
at the hazy edges of spring,

to sit me down in an old
porch chair, my hands folded,
precise as origami cranes
in my lap, to tell me

a story filled with mud,
bad liquor, tiny rooms,
rough forest, bugs stinging
his back, roots twisting

his ankles, the lack
of someone’s face
blanking his mind
of everything, even sleep,

heat turning his skin
from soft human skin
to a raw hide of stink,
drops of blood so tiny

at a knife’s rough cut
on his wrist it seemed even
his body could not give
him enough of anything—

and then, something happens
to make it the now,
tidy room, soft sheets,
paintings bright on walls,

clock ticking neat
as my throat gulping water
after a long cry, a bad dream.
I don’t care what form

the story takes, nor if
what he wanted
matches what I miss.
I only want someone

who longed for something
to grab the bare skin
of my arm in his hand,
and, eyes bright as dimes,

tell me, Listen.
Let me tell you
about the day
everything changed.

Claire Dixon was born in England, raised in Canada, and has lived happily in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, since 2004. She received an MFA in poetry from Louisiana State University in 2007 and is currently working towards her Master’s of Library and Information Science. “Kalimba” and “The Magic Words” are part of a manuscript-in-progress called The Secret of Everything.