Nikki Williams: Crib Note

love at first sight in a fast-food line is risky business, after all. yet there were whispers between eyes and eyes, soon keeping time with light steps, laced fingers. jokes, dreams, confessions peeped into moony fragments of forever. she indulged each caress and clue — his contagious smile; the vintage ticker; the ‘Empress of Soul’, his favorite girl.  

that title is willed to their child, his new lease on life acquired through cooing, wailing, tempering. the muffin melts his heart, and it cools her own, but both sing to her in syrupy tones, “you’re the best thing that ever happened to me…”


survival training starts when she is just a child. lessons for days in the living room, no less, an aching house with many windows. her mother and a small team of troupers—commodores, carpenters, wailers, the police—drill down tactics and the basics. maneaters, jays, and smooth criminals, woolly & harsh-tongued, stalk these sermons. yet service, however dicey, is dogmatic. a set component of the supple doctrine, a crutch of cerebral proportions.

some days they sail away to China, tramp through the rains in Africa. sometimes they watch the sun go round the moon. spin right round with America’s sweethearts who bite bullets for breakfast, who save the best for last. 


one day, the girl hears her name at the corner of riff and reverb. she: follows silvery strings past dusk’s purple iris; she: discovers the Alchemist. swapping mirth for the wrings from her hands and a chest of fear, he deploys magic with savoir faire. rouses bold blokes and green-eyed wraiths from parchment mosaics.

her heart now part of his rueful spell, she is free to go.

and so, she claws her way against grooves and depressions etched in black like moss on mountains. tumbles forward through a village of violets slaked by streams of consciousness and welled up tears.