For the Last Time Body Explains Dissociation by Lois Roma-Deeley
Illustration by Marie Castiglione

There’s a bloody handprint on the front door
of an old farm house.
Snow drifts into the parlor, empty now
except for an ant clinging to a red balloon
which rises from the floor, floats over
the hair sofa and the crooked tops of picture frames,
finally resting in the ceiling corner
like a child’s head in the crook of a parent’s arm.
Winter’s eye is closing.
All the windows are painted black.
A candle sizzles into its own wax.
The staircase groans.
Of course, it would.
If there is any wonder
it’s the mice eating through the kitchen pipes.
A plane roars overhead, cuts a hole in the roof.
Suddenly there’s a turning,
and it’s not the iron key inside the metal lock
but the dead dressed in long silk shirts
emerging from velvet flocked walls.
Soon the clock will swallow its cuckoo,
and the bird ghost will cluck and coo—
it’s not leaving that hurts so much
but the passing through.

Lois Roma-Deeley is the author of three collections of poetry: “Rules of Hunger” (2004), ”northSight” (2006), and “High Notes” (2010)—a Paterson Poetry Prize Finalist. Her poems have been featured in numerous literary journals and anthologies. She is a recipient of an Arizona Commission on the Arts 2016 Artist Research & Development Grant. She lives in Phoenix, Arizona, USA.

This poem originally appeared in the Body issue. Find more inspiring stories from the Body issue here or read My Hairy Legs and Me: A Puberty Story.