Ghost forward through secret garden tunes
to St. John’s Priory. She plays black abbey
ribs back alley, she worships electric chess
and smacks hard his jukebox.
On weekend nights Queen Jane sniffs glue/beneath her bed with Rougarou.
She learned to reed, learned to bob her head,
zipped her orchids in their vases. Coast-line sinks.
Queen Jane coasts across the Spillway Bridge,
rainclouds a Rorschach-uterus plugged up.
Nicks her car and spinal cord, disk bulged
and turtle-shell broken, all ivory beneath her skirt.
Scuffed marble. So midnight clutches his fist.
So Queen Jane settles and reapplies
her lipstick, collects q-tips instead of sleep.
Deaf screams, death by screens
she names street-signs and hurricanes,
reads his mosquito bites like braille.
Still. Jugs of wine with sleepy Rougarou,
he shares a lullaby upon her bed. A hand-me-down tune.
And if I die before I wake/I pray the prayer my prayer to take.
When the blood came she should have stopped slinking through midnight air, but fur spread across limbs. She dripped nightly in abandoned strip malls. Her tail swatted mosquitoes past blue-glow gas stations and Andouille shops. Beneath the pier she chewed books. She smeared.
She lay in bed matted with candle-wax until witching hour woke her. She slipped through swamps, licked wounds and feared the moon. Mother wondered at her red eyes. Grandmother left out saucers of milky tea. They painted over the red walls and prayed.
The years mud-caked. Her body softened like a peach and seized.
I shave as she growls behind the mirror. I bury my silver birthstone earrings beneath our future grave, leave them for the number of years they were lost in Grandmother’s yard. Boil the dirt with Mother’s signature. Comb my hair with daggers and sing three generations against the clock.
When our ghost arrives I will remind it about howling. Its translucent bones tucking us in bed. I will save ectoplasm in a mug for the wolf, to feed her plentiful hungers.
The moon infurs—
she will wake again and carve the evening like cypress roots, haunting as a house would.
Hear her scratching at the door.
Elizabeth Theriot is a Louisiana-native and University of New Orleans graduate. She has just completed her first year as an MFA candidate at the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa, where she is an Assistant Poetry Editor for the Black Warrior Review.