She pirouettes into the funeral
wearing a tutu.
A squid spoiling in the sunlight,
spotlighted and dancing.
The aisle is her ocean,
and she sails across it.
She yells fish.

Eyes twirl 'round benches and bibles
like tutus 'round pupils.
Bubbled hallelujahs float to the roof
and get stuck there.
The crowd's mouths catch hooks.
Hundreds of twines reel out,
cut the air,
tangling into a knots
the size of hymnal whole notes.

She snaps the metal wand again,
reeling them in.
It bends in the gasps of wind,
twirling out twine until the line is gone,
and the crowd is free to wriggle.
I know you're in there, Dear.

She thwaps and drags
her wand, firm against the wooden pews,
to the man of her
stark dead in the coffin.

The preacher's eyes twitch,
"O, my word, my lord.
O, word."
down from the pulpit,
but she slides over his words
like a finger gliding along
a dead mackerel's skin.

The crowd's whispers ride on twinges,
from the hook caught in their mouths,
to the barbs coming out their eyes.
from the rapping on the coffin,
to the-
Anyone in there?
"What on God's green earth-"
"Holy Hell she's opening it-"

She taps the dead man on the nose,
and the crowd is a gloved hand
feeling the pressure of water
and the squirm of
Don't be such a dead fishy.

They move together.
The pastor's voice rings clear like a whale song.
She taps on the eye-lid,
three times,
and on the third she catches it,
and out flies a glossy eye.
Wake up, silly. I am your fairy godfishy.
And the dead man remains dead.

A little girl in a Sunday dress dons a wig and stares at the bald woman's bruised, make-up-smeared face. The bald woman smiles through the glass. Two uniformed men cross their arms and watch the pastor move his mouth and flail his arms. A woman sobs and says the woman stabbed her soul. Others nod and agree. Men, women, and children file out of the church, gazing up into the sunlight between the leaves and breathing. A man snatches the wig from the child's head and yanks her away. Over her shoulder she sees the bald woman waving goodbye, but the man yanks her again and a sea of legs consumes her.

About the Poet

Anderson Holderness is a fourth year English student currently enrolled at The University of Georgia. He is originally from Greensboro, North Carolina, where the street system often confuses and frustrates out-of-town folk. He enjoys violent video games, slinkies, and, every now and then, juxtaposition.