Detail from I Built This for You by Tim Frisch

Jessica Bixel

Instead of Mercy


I made you a promise: water.
Unlike God who gave the flood
and took it back, my promise

will erode nothing. Everything
I make, I make for you.


It is nightfall and our mother
collects little blue eggs like beads.

She taught me to lie as open
as a field before rain, mouth ajar.
Something will fall in

a story or a prayer or a bird
still wet from escape.


When the storm passed, those animals,
what survived by fleeing, returned.

The poet laughed. O but my world
is too perfect. If only that were true.

The symmetry of wild creatures,
tusk and pelt and wing and hoof,

herding home for the sake of dying,
eventually, somewhere familiar.