Diorama of a Funeral
I pour a salt solution into the shoebox, enough
to float the whole chrysanthemum rigmarole—
rubber bouncy balls: my aunts like buoys
in a sea of black felt, draped like mourning
frocks on the kitchen’s tiled horizon,
where my mother drags her dinghy of hope—
an old birthday balloon, poked through.
I smear some ink on her arm for a bruise, still new,
and pull her into the living room,
where a tide
of grackles rises and falls,
confetti at the window.
I shred my grandfather’s tissue fingers,
his fluttering deafness, and construct
a tree of twigs to mimic behind him.
The plastic pastor roofs our doll-sized guilt
with two webbed hands, the blessing missing.
I tip my father’s empty chair, forbidden,
rosary beads as the metronome plays the role
of our gold-gilt clock, clucking its old tongue
at a rafted shirtless Barbie: little sister sleeping.
Later, I will move our tiny feet though the dark box,
trap dawn’s infant breaths under netted fog,
and finger-trace my father’s name, the crack that spreads
across the scene’s fourth wall, invisible.
Diorama of a Tiny Death
Beneath a paper ceiling the basement sways,
keeps the hidden basinet, still
lined with sloughed off skin, rustle of dry petals
inside—mums, a residual hush,
or just the murmur of an emptied room.
It echoes up the razor-slit vents, ripples
like wind along the nursery walls, arched
windows die-cut, one pane yet punched
free, left hanging.
In the corner, a mobile
of Maple helicopter pods, half pink,
half tawny blades broke open, spilling
dead seeds from their bellies. No dolls
in this house—only a spindle
red-dressed in thread, unraveling
on the bed in the room next door.
I nudge the shrunken comforter,
a patch of salvaged gauze—swish
then crunch of exoskeleton, peeking
iridescent from beneath. My finger
jumps, but then I see—just an onion husk
Misfortune is a house
built for sibilance, and this is
where the haunted sleep, each breath a question:
shuffle of feet, self, or nothing?