“If You Cough, Sneeze, Sigh, or Yawn, do it not Loud but Privately; and Speak not in your Yawning, but put Your handkerchief or Hand before your face and turn aside.” G. Washington.
There was an owl. Well, an owl’s carcass.
He kept it in a coffee tin in the shed.
It was against the law, except it wasn’t,
because he wanted the bones. And no one
would ever find out. Unless you told them.
And you won’t tell them. Ever. Would you?
You can’t remember, but you can’t forget,
and what you do remember isn’t true.
There aren’t any bruises. There’s no blood.
No burning feathers, no stench, nothing.
No one cooked dinner, except you, of course,
and that was charcoal. Remember? Blame the pans.
Blame the electric stove. Blame the shotglass,
the sleeping pills, the things that go bump
in the night. Blame the wooden door that cracked
when it was hit. Blame the brick wall that didn’t.
No, no more drinks. No more pills. Not allowed.
Lay still. Don’t move. Move now. I never said
not to move. How could you say that? Put your hand
before your face and turn aside. You die when
I say you can. You forgot to say ‘may I.’
Stop screaming. You forgot to say please.