This might have something to do with predation, a paper cocoon
in a dead girl’s mouth, a bloody arrow drawn on an oak leaf.
Nothing is so slick as the red marrow from a femur, the red skirt
draped over a thigh. Call her a striptease, a hotel keychain, a pool
of wet painted under the body. She was breathing when you began
whistling between your teeth. Now there are beetles in her hair,
and she is folded over, raw fragments, the knucklebone
you swallowed, the plastic bag of fingernails you keep
under the backseat. She is the pair of lips you tattooed on your wrist
that means something, the secret you tongue when you’re alone
in rented rooms, the damp graffiti you left on the pavement
in the shape of canid claws. You imagine she might return
as a mouse, something dark and skittering in your peripheral vision.
This is a trick. You appear in numerous guises, but her ghost
always knows you by the damage you cause to exterior tissue,
the oval tracks that lead away from the pretty carcass.
(First published in Ghost Ocean Magazine, Issue 2)
Carl Sandburg High School…
12 hours ago