Marie Davis-Williams



My name is Murgas.
My mother’s midwife
set me on a deer path
soon after discovering
a full set of teeth
in my natal mouth.

The stag sheltered me
while the rest of the
ungulate drove,
tied to my shoulders
the antlers of their ancestors
in need of sanctifying
and led me out of Hungary,
west, by way of Levedia.

I became a celebrant
because of their efforts
and built a tower of their bones
on Bowman Hill in the new country
with the intention of transmitting
messages by wireless telegraphy
the fourteen or so miles
all the way to Scranton.

The tower was tall
and I may have inadvertently
misled some of my congregates
into believing they could communicate
with their deity in this manner.

My parishioners
fretted about its strength,
and quite on their own
began teaching alchemy
and a bit of welding
to the blackbird, starling and towhee
that lived in their backyard orchards.

They instructed the birds to
harvest ripened fruit
and convey it up the tower
where the aves,
with their clumsy wings,
turned it into steel
and soldered each to a juncture of bone.

This was done
entirely without my knowing.
I would not have permitted
such a thing.
After all, I had become
a man of science for them.
I had created the
Universal Ether Telegraph Company
to help distract my people
from their superstitions.

But I will admit their efforts
did strengthen the bone tower
and after several weeks
of careful investigation
to correct for
inductive disturbances,
I was able to freely pass messages
back and forth
with no interference
from external influences.

I think I became reckless
with exuberance at this point
and found it necessary to reconstruct
the transformers and
readjust the condensers and
choke coils several times.

I added to the height of the tower.
It was so high
Edison japed he could see
the spire from West Orange.
He began visiting me.
I believe it was at this point he told
Marconi everything I knew.

Shortly thereafter
a sudden twirl wind
brought the tower down.
I struggled to humbly accept it
as my portion,
while whispers of “God’s Will”
replaced admissions of venial sins
through the confessional grate.

Slowly, I gathered what deer bones
had not been taken
by the dogs in the field
and asked my altar boys
to secure them
to my shoulders
in the same way
the deer had done
years earlier.

I returned to Prague
in this fashion
and tried telling
the Ministry of Education
what potential lingered in the marrow.
But they had no record
of such bones going missing
and so, could not accept them.

At this,
I took the bones to
the garden in Lesser Town,
a short walk up the street
from the Ministry,
and buried them.
Then I sailed back to the states,
back to my parishioners
in the North End.

Here, I bless their bread and chickens.
I bless their throats in the fall
and give sacraments
to mark their days.
It is my job to tell the
sisters how much
wafer and wine
is to be ordered in the space
of a month.

Daily, I perform the transubstantiation
and there is always a moment
between the bread and the flesh
and the wine and the blood
when my parishioners
bend their heads to their hands.
Whether it is hesitancy
or expectancy
I am never quite sure.
To me,
they look to be praying.