Step 1:

Go see Martha the psychic because the man you fell for doesn’t return your calls. Papa Legba, a stuffed doll, sits on Martha’s mantel waiting for the gifts of bourbon and cigarettes. You sit across from Martha, in front of Papa, at the little round table in her living room. Scarves drape over Martha’s shoulder. A large opal ring on her index finger. She is small, but stout. You have returned from a journey, an exploration out west to find something inside you other than yourself. Her lined hands cradle the card as she closes her eyes, as if to meditate, as if to influence the deck. Martha flips a card and lays out your future. The first card is the High Priestess. “This is your card,” she says. You don’t feel like a priestess. This regal lady, tanned skin, dark hair, wrapped in blue on her throne, who knows the inner consciousness, who patiently waits for her life to unfold knowing everything is for her, of her. You, only twenty-two, nails bit down to the pain, are not patient. You do not find happiness within. You seek out pleasure in others, in young men, in the bottom of a bottle, because you believe that nothing is for you—no stars aligned, no fairytales, no fate or fantasy. You ask about him. The man who walked you through the morning dew, hungover together, to catch a ferry back to the mainland, who promised to write, to call, and couldn’t wait to see you again. The man back across the country, in the city by the sea that you ran to only to end up back here, in Memphis, again. Memphis with her muddy rivers and dirty blues. Martha tells you to do a spell.

Step 2:

Buy Supplies—
a coconut
a candle
a dash of quicksilver
or break
a thermometer for the mercury inside, which you do because it’s cheaper,
and it feels good to snap glass

Step 3:

Carve a hole into the coconut
pour rum inside—steal a sip for yourself, and then another, let it slide down
into the pit inside you
and cradle your heart for a while—
a drop of quicksilver in the hole—
another slug down your throat.

Step 4:

Burn a white candle
chant let this coconut
be his head.
fill it with love for me
The flame flickers like a breeze,
like your soul loosed itself
from its cave, like maybe the spell worked differently than you thought,
but then you feel it, the hurt, winding
around your spine.

Step 5:

Drive drunk down to the Mississippi river, an oil slick of rapid currents. Watch the sun’s rays arch like pink fire over the water as long barges ease on by. Take a deep breath and heave the coconut into the water. The river is brown. The coconut is brown. Everything a sludge of mud as you dream of the clear waters in the northwest, of the nights when you drowned in his tongue, the man with brown hair and high water pants who played records for you in his apartment, and he promised to love you forever, or maybe not forever, maybe until you returned, and a little longer than that. If the coconut sinks, he is gone, but you can’t see the coconut, you never even heard it splash. You wonder if your body would splash, and roll your eyes at your own dramatics. Instead, you finish the rum, and toss the bottle in the river, where it fills with water, and then drifts like a man away from you.

Kat Moore has essays in Hippocampus, Whiskey Island, Salt Hill, New South, Pithead Chapel, Split Lip, The Rumpus, and others, as well as forthcoming in Diagram and Passages North. Her fiction can be found in Cheap Pop Lit, and forthcoming from Hobart. She was the winner of Profane’s 2016 Nonfiction Prize and a finalist in the Best of Net 2017. Her work also appears in the anthology Bodies of Truth: Personal Narratives on Illness, Disability, and Medicine

Photo by Paul Bilger