My Mother Is a Skeleton

My Mother Is a Skeleton, part I

My mother is a skeleton.
She wears a white dress.

Not virginal, Celestial. But then, was her
costume ever clean, or was it sullied from the start

even as she pushed her head free
of the lace, jaded by the impending

disappointment of her callous child
turning his back on her

expectations while the Earth spun at one thousand
miles-per-hour. At such speed, who can stand

up to religion’s indoctrination?
She’d have been happier

spiked on an actual cross.
Forgive me mother

for I know not what to do
to make you happy.

My mother is a skeleton
concealed in white dress.

Calcium and collagen covered
with silk and crepe. The walnut lid shut up.

The brass rings rattle. Sealed in
concrete, unadorned. Enshrined

in saintliness. A Matryoshka doll,
inaccessible. The final layer March mud.

Her silken lips moldered away
exposing grinning teeth.

She deserves the last laugh.

My Mother Is a Skeleton, part II

Tonight I do not sleep, thinking,
beneath my feet my mother’s
bones keep. I consider the
concrete capsuled skeleton
that had borne her flesh. Flesh that
drew up the corners of her lips, 
crinkled her eyebrows up and in.
Flesh that pulled the covers
tight beneath my chin.

Her bones are solid as when
her animation was attached,
but they are now anonymous.
Not even I would recognize
them were they scattered
amongst all the rest. The bulbous
ends of a femur wrapped by a spike
collared bulldog’s slobbery lips.

If, bucket by bucket I backhoed
her free, unwrapped the rotted
fabric of the yellowed dress,
draped her radius, her ulna
over my flesh encased clavicle,
her phalanges     dangling,                           
might I feel close to her again?
If I fashioned a flute
from her left fibula could I 
Pied-Piper her back to tuck me in?
Might her spirit at least reply,
whistling a lullaby I’d recognize.

Mike L. Nichols is a graduate of Idaho State University and a recipient of the Ford Swetnam Poetry Prize. He lives and writes in Eastern Idaho. Look for his poetry in Rogue Agent, Tattoo Highway, Plainsongs Magazine, and elsewhere. Find more at

About the illustrator: Ritiksha Sharma is based in New Delhi, India. She likes to make digital monsters and write about three-legged aliens. Most days doing just that is the only source of her cerebral lucidity.  

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