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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