The key, the lock, just kidding, the key. The skeleton, the house, the master. The car, the card, the control, the do not duplicate. Have you ever owned a key? That’s a thoughtless question. Of course you haven’t. I once kept a key forged from the dark fire of lifting lanterns. True story. When I held it my hand felt lighter and more burdensome at the same time. The key, the metal piece that works the lock, the satisfying feel of the click, the padlock, the deadbolt, the knob lock, the intricate systems of water that raise and lower supertankers across isthmi. The rope lock, the armlock, the Loch Ness, the lock of hair, just kidding, the key, always just the key. As in, in the key of C, the sea’s key, a briny thing wreathed in rings of green, the instrument, the implement, the tool, the apparatus to which is recorded the falling of perhaps a thousand dead or dying horses through endless striations of mineral light. Have you ever had some problems with the sun? Have you ever had some problems with the weight of water? Have you ever just said fuck it and replaced the sea with a drink in your hand? Just kidding, the key, the world’s smallest, always just the key, hung somewhere deep, something that glints recklessly but for no one to see.
Nils Michals is the author of two collections of poetry, Come Down to Earth (Bauhan, 2014), which won the May Sarton New Hampshire Prize, and Lure (Pleiades Press, 2004), which won the Lena-Miles Wever Todd Award. Individual poems have recently been published in Posit, Four Chambers, Small Po[r]tions, Bombay Gin, and Catamaran Literary Reader, among others. He lives in Santa Cruz, CA, and teaches at West Valley College.