Laying Small Ghosts

by Vir­ginia M. Mohlere

Eighth grade dis­sec­tion day:
the whis­per­ing creak of eleven ghost frogs
fol­lowed me from the classroom,
pale hop­ping at my feet.

All week I tripped on those nothings,
mis-heard ques­tions, flubbed homework.

Maw­maw heard me sobbing:
she laid her hand across the croak­ing heads,
taught me the words.
And Fri­day night I shuf­fled to the foot­ball field,
gath­ered up the tiny shades, sang the lullaby.
The frogs lay down in the soil for their long sleep.

I took Chem in high school, braced for Bio II’s fetal pigs.
But I wasn’t in the room, and they stayed quiet.
(I held Mawmaw’s hand when she died,
and she stayed qui­et too.
It’s one of the mys­ter­ies, for sure.)

Yet the mind wants what it wants,
so I spent col­lege singing down fruit flies and cats,
a still­born foal from my vet tech class.

Not every cat wish­es to sleep.
Praise God, they don’t stay with me.

“Use your gifts,” peo­ple say,
so I work in a base­ment lab, Smithville, Texas,
sur­round­ed by mice: nude, athymic, SCID,
ten­der crit­ters I feed up and clean,
until I dial up the CO2 on test­ing day,
watch them fall in the cage,
pop up at my feet.

Some­times we’re a mighty crowd in my back yard
the night after, my and my misty sidekicks.
Wait­ing for a lit­tle moonlight,
wait­ing to rest.

lay down your tiny heart, my friend
time to go home­some and glad
into the soft dream­ing earth,
you’ve fin­ished the time that you had

Vir­ginia M. Mohlere lives in the swamps of Hous­ton and writes with a foun­tain pen that is extinct in the wild. Her work has been seen in Cab­i­net des Fées, Fick­le Mus­es, Myth­ic Delir­i­um, Gob­lin Fruit, and Mung­Be­ing.

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