When someone doesn’t want
to be your friend anymore,
they often draw upon theatrics,
slam shut the iron gates
and let the rose vines die.
Or they evaporate
like a ghostly mirage
leaving only the faint
musk of vanilla.
But today, I wrote a note
to my tardy students:
We’re in the garden,
and I almost forgot
that you and I are not
sisters anymore. I had wanted
to call you and to laugh
about the cheesy movie version
of The Secret Garden, where a man’s
dead wife calls out, in a phantom echo,
I’m in the garden…garden…
Secret gardens weeded out
by chainsaws, drunken teens,
demonic stirrings in the earth.
After all, it was you
who taught me the religion
of horror; the darkness
where we lived anyway.
It felt right, a snake
in the woodpile.
Years later, I called you
about my wedding, no answer.
Lady in White, I hissed to no one,
as I drew the pearl-lined
veil down my face
and snarled at the glass.
You and I,
we love our ghouls.
Remember the millennium party?
I was 25 and you were 21.
When we were little, we used to say,
At the turn of the century, we’ll be
grown-ups. And it happened
that way, two LA girls,
sparkling at a house party.
Even when my sleazy ex wrapped his long,
slender-man arms around us both,
we slid from his clutches,
Final Girls on a dark beach,
the Lewton Walk,
a hiss from a bus.
We had so much
to learn back then.
I found out you moved to Texas
with your man, the one who convinced you
to stop liking horror films. I’ll admit,
watching you bat away that carnage, the glorious
blood baths conjured by gorgeous teens,
made me feel like the gym teacher
in Carrie—a table shoved in my gut.
Like a summer with no
meat hook. Ballet with no gore.
As though Truth or Dare should not end
But I digress. You moved to Texas,
a horror in itself, but I want
to tell you something you may
have forgotten since you’re off
the bloodshed. I saw you,
wearing a white, cowboy hat,
too big and a farce anyway,
like a hockey mask and a heavy gait.
It terrified me. You looked
into the camera, aware
of your façade but with no
hatchet to split it to bone, reveal
the horror of every movie’s end:
our own reflection in the clear light of day.
An old roommate used to tell me
I was the blonde girl in The Munsters,
I didn’t belong with my family. No time
for that now. The clock is ticking
and dusk crawls in. The sunset bleeds
as I prepare for my swan song.
Sister, you left me
in body, but I’ve kept you
in my brain like a secret shadow
locked in the basement.
I have done my research. Your secrets
have gone to Texas.
No note. No blood spatter.
So I toss you the key and meander
to the park. A murder of crows
cast moonlit shadows, and I loosen
my scarf, let Truth fang apart my neck.
I am jasmine now, pale and creeping,
the sun’s scarlet finale
and an eternity to play
and to create
but no longer with you.
Shanti Weiland’s second book, Cracked Planet, is forthcoming from Negative Capability Press. Her first book, Sister Nun was the 2015 winner of the Negative Capability Press Book Competition, judged by Amy King. She currently teaches English at The University of Alabama and is writing a book of poems about Star Trek: The Next Generation. You can find her at shantiweiland.com.
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