Juliet Cook
When feeling haughty, the ghost wears an in vogue hat.
When feeling naughty, the ghost wears a rogue hat
with rakish filaments, haphazard projections,
a cryptic spark in her one good eye...

Besotted with silly little cloches, she pretends
she has all the time in the world for dalliance;
all the time in the world to sip tea with heavy cream.
Threadbare gloves, tiny buttons, finger bones
poised so whimsically. So spellbindingly they clink
against the chipped porcelain of a forget-me-not print
vessel. But no matter how much quaint racket she makes,
the mini
éclairs, the petit fours, the fancy biscuits remain
a sweet tableau she cannot eat (despite phantom teeth).
The egg cups, the eyeless wig heads, the quaggy mess
of boiled cabbage on the prettiest scalloped dish.
She trains her eye on the windmill cookie, but can't
make it move across the table...

Veil of dark red netting, so dark red
it's almost black. She clasps a hatbox brimming with contraband
in one transparent hand; clutches a little girl ghost by the other.
'But Mommy, I want to ride the carousel rabbit!'
The child's voice dusty petticoats and antiquated moth balls.
The mother ghost drags her away from the lurid paint,
the missing eye jewel, the behemothic bunny inhabited by...

She carefully arranges her toe bones into the slots.
She can no longer keep her parts contained.
Pieces drift away; seep through the soft skully.
Fingernails peel off like albumen. Swathes of special ribbon
don't hold anything together anymore. Her heart levitates
around the room. Macabre balloon with eyeless vessels.
So dark red, the left ventricle grazes the fringe
of a frilly lampshade. A phantom black cat bristles,
flicks whiskers, gets ready to pounce...

The heart escapes and comes to rest
in a stainless steel basin, on a bed
of lemon zest and egg shells.
Unanchored vertebrae float out of her throat
like oddly-shaped musical notes,
like bony syllables. When they start to buzz,
she puts on her battered beekeeper's hat
and closes her one good eye...

A voice from inside the walls wails,
'Mommy, I have tentacles instead of wings!'
Haphazard projections, cracked gingerbread necks,
dead moths caught in moldy veils,
the smell of crinoline flailing, burning...

They swarm toward the socket of the bad eye.
The heart quivers in an egg cup.
The windmill cookie begins to rotate.
Rachel Kendall
chalk, collage