Pull the Covers to Your Chin (LC 10)

The dead ghost in, making my candle gutter.
My chamber fills with unblinking eyes and their

hospital gowns flutter, alive with cartoon characters.
I’ve waited so long for them to arrive, hoping they’d have

answers. They keep quiet. Still, I hope they’ll stay a while.
Proof of after-life. Beyond that, what remains to say? My sister

stands before them, tall as my doorknob, clutching close her yellow
hospital robe. She stares through me, smiling coyly as if she has a secret.

The dead drift off when the birds first sing. She fades, a glance promising
nothing. But the fact she showed at all, and stayed a while is worth something.

***

My Mother Is a Skeleton, part I

My mother is a skeleton.
She wears a white dress.

Not virginal, Celestial. But then, was her
costume ever clean, or was it sullied from the start

even as she pushed her head free
of the lace, jaded by the impending

disappointment of her callous child
turning his back on her expectations

while the Earth spun at one thousand
miles-per-hour. At such speed, who can stand

up to religion’s indoctrinations?
She’d have been happier

spiked on an actual cross.
Forgive me mother

for I know not what to do
to make you happy.

My mother is a skeleton
concealed in white dress.

Calcium and collagen covered
with silk and crepe. The walnut lid shut up.

The brass rings rattle. Sealed in
concrete, unadorned. Enshrined

in saintliness. A Matryoshka doll,
inaccessible. The final layer March mud.

Her silken lips moldered away
exposing grinning teeth.

She deserves the last laugh,
after all her suffering.

***

Mike L. Nichols is a graduate of Idaho State University and a recipient of the Ford Swetnam Poetry Prize. He lives and writes in Eastern Idaho. Look for his poetry in Rogue Agent, Tattoo Highway, Plainsongs Magazine, and elsewhere. Find more at deadgirldancing.net