Then I Give You Magic

Prayer sounds of ocean air & shiplap. Two leagues out on this ramshackle boat

Prayer sounds of ocean air &
shiplap. Two leagues out on this
ramshackle boat & a hope
for some westerly wind to blow
us to shore. For some last
cold breath before drowning.
This life is all coconut husk &
rum ration & chance of autumn
breeze. A gulf. An entire sea of

you wish me god’s blessing. You
wish me good water & white crescent
of cloud. But what can I give
in return: A child. An evening
of comfort before I set out. New
earth. Land. A people who
have not yet been found.

Then I give you condolence.
A prayer. This bed. A fist of gold &
a kiss upon the head as gentle as
any queen. I give you hope. Myrrh.
Oils from the east. I give you my love
if only a bit. I give you magic & pray
you hold it.

JOHN BELK is an Associate Professor of English at Southern Utah University and the author of The Gardens of our Childhoods (Autumn House Press, 2022) and The Weathering of Igneous Rockforms in High-Altitude Riparian Environments (Cathexis Northwest, 2020). His poems have recently appeared in Jet Fuel Review, Sugar House Review, Crab Orchard Review, Madison Review, Salt Hill, Worcester Review, Sport Literate, and Poetry South among others. His scholarship can be found in Rhetoric Review, Rhetoric Society Quarterly, Composition Forum, and edited anthologies.

Check out The Gardens of our Childhoods, John Belk’s debut poetry collection and the winner of the Rising Writer Prize from Autumn House Press

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