*originally appeared in Noble / Gas Quarterly

When I was eight there was a nightmare that pulled like a hooded horse, eyes
capped & bucking. It was my mother who attempted to pry the image of dark
blood from my head, my father who clamped his mouth shut. The half-opened slat
blinds yellowed everything / I kept my eyes open      & open               & open / til
light. Twelve years later there is a nightmare with black birds. I wake / midday,
sweating on a couch. The horse kicks—



I am afraid of my grandmother’s ghost.
She comes as cardinal, a crooked splotch
of red against January snow. My mother
watches from the window, cold sun
sparking off the glass. My grandmother
only stays for a moment, leaving a bright
trail in her wake.

She reappears later in the mirror where
my mother stands. I watch as the light
bends where she touches it, blotting
out the barrier between. I am afraid
when she is overtaken by light, of the
emptiness in the glass, as her voice
rings formless in the air around us.


MARIEL FECHIK lives in Chicago, IL, where she works in a library. She sings in the band Fay Ray and is a music writer for Atwood Magazine and Third Coast Review. She is a Bettering American Poetry nominee and her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Hobart, Rust + Moth, Gravel, Noble / Gas Qrtly, and others. She tweets @marielfechik.