i.

in the evening, God muddies the sky with arkansan soil, and the sun sinks into its reddening haze; the shadows, orange and deep, rest in the hollows of her bones, and she is outlined in violet-pink cast by bleary-eyed clouds low on the horizon. she lies amidst wildflowers and tall pale grass, unafraid of the rattlers mama warned her about. she hears them dimly, sleeping in their nests, nude as she is and more beautiful for it; her skin becomes golden, and she wonders am i dreaming? am i dreaming? what is my name?

"moira. and it's a shame he's made you cut your hair, but you're beautiful without it. you have perfect cheeks." the voice is unfamiliar but warms her, and he warms her. she cannot see him, but she feels his weight and smells his sweat— ambrosial, kin to the pollenating blooms. "you are beautiful, more beautiful than any woman i have seen... it's a shame you're wasting with him. human men are ignorant, and he is more ignorant than most, but i do not wish to speak of him. i wish to speak of you, moira. moira."

he warms her.


ii.

justin fucks her in their blue bedroom when she wakes the next morning, and he asks, "are you wearing a new perfume?"


iii.

in six months, she's lying in a yellowed tub and soaking in a lavender bath, smooth like silk wrapped around her ripened figure. she rests a hand atop the swell of her belly and smiles at the little life she's come to know as michael. michael, it's a family name. it's my grandfather's name. she hums an old lullaby, and the water becomes tepid. it's a family name. he should have a family name. it's my grandfather's name. it's an angel's name. it's a beautiful name, michael.

she wants to name him after his father, but justin told her no because it would be confusing, and she cannot tell him it's another name that's been eluding her head.


iv.

beneath justin, blackened by the monsters that live betwixt their sheets, she closes her eyes and sees a honey sylph with irises carved from amber and skin the color of wheat. his lips were rose petals, and he tasted like sweetened cream. he whispered his affections, and he did not love her, but he wanted her and he respected her and he knew how to make her feel like a seed planted in the brightest spring weather. he knew how to hold her by the nape of her neck and that her breasts like gentle caresses. he knew that he was more beautiful than her, and she smiled and told him she felt like she had lain with a woman. his laugh was like rain, and she could not remember her name, and she cannot remember his name— michael's true name—

michael, writhing when justin finishes and leaves a bruise on her arm. "man, i can't wait until you got your flat tummy back. you've been so fucking boring. you know that, little guy? you've made her boring." he pats her belly.


v.

in the evening, Valkyries muddy the sky with arkansan soil, and the sun sinks into its violent haze; justin holds michael before she wakes, and even in the fluorescent nightmare, trapped in coarse thin cloths, she can see her aureate baby. he is wrapped in a white blanket she rubbed with rose oil, and when he is handed to her, she touches his soft blond hair and wonders am i dreaming? am i dreaming? what is your name? she whispers, "michael." he opens his eyes, and they are amber. what is your name? what is your name? "he's beautiful, isn't he?"

"yeah. like you." justin kisses her temple, and she smiles when he leaves because the cots are too uncomfortable to sleep on.