ghost taxidermy 

we worked with our bare hands in the dark
lifting the ghost's pelt from his frame.
everyone is a balance beam until 
there is nothing but air. a cool breeze.
not alone in the house of still-life.
tails that pace back & forth. the drawer
of glass eyes. we place the finished pieces
in the hallway where everyone was passing.
sometimes, i would sit there. making a home
in the liminal is the only way through
another needle's head. all the animals. 
we'd go out to woods & fill baskets
with their souls. glossy & satin.
a rabbit & a deer & an owl. laying them out
like paper dolls to be prepared.
once i saw a bird escape his body.
plummeting skeleton. the tools we use
are simple. thread & bone. knots like
little tongue-ties. nothing left to say.
the eyes follow us. we want to be followed.
we ask each other how we'd like to be mounted
when we move on to the washing machine
in the sky. i tell my brother 
i'd like to stand at attention.
the mobiles we make of humming birds 
& geese. i stand in a crib of my own creation.
nailing a door shut. there is an animal 
still inside. the animal is me.
howling from the stairwell. the teeth
our house grows at night when 
the taxidermy wears off & we're left with
almost bodies. still, what is there to do
if we do not preserve. how much more still
can you hold yourself. we have
a breath swallowing contest. i win
& i die just long enough for you 
to sew me a statue. gasping. color returning
to all the corners of the room.
rabbits standing on the ceiling
keepunig their secrets. a deer wandering
into the living room.

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