By E R Skulmoski
Cold stars splinter above my head
as a river dissolves stones in my throat
clawing the history off my skin,
shedding whispers of childhood secrets
where I pretended to be a ghost
walking through walls of trees.
At some point they bent those trees
backwards, almost cracking my head.
But I got so good at being a ghost
that no screams slid out of my throat.
And I got so good at hiding secrets,
it all blended into my skin.
I thought I needed a thicker skin
maybe like that of bark from trees
expanding to hide more secrets,
wrapping galaxies around my head.
So I placed stones at the entrance of my throat,
hoarding their dead horses and my ghost.
But I am a temple of the Holy Ghost
Whatever is in my body washes up on my skin,
and eventually it will exit my throat.
I took that to mean hiding in dead trees
and lobotomizing galaxies that are in my head.
I took that to mean setting secret
fires to those hours of written secrets.
but ... … ... the Holy Ghost
groans and hears the fires in my head
raging as more stains snake off my skin.
Now, I can do nothing but cling to His tree.
Now, I can do nothing but reach down my throat.
With my fingers I pluck those stones off my throat
and allow God to take all my secrets.
I spit them out green and heavy at the foot of His tree,
allowing lovingkindness to pour over my ghost
as He removes Cain's mark from my skin
as He rids me of whatever they say is all in my head.
So my throat gave up my childhood ghost.
Secrets oozed out the pores of my skin.
My head now clear, my body now a tree
planted by the river.
E R Skulmoski is a poet who lives in the interior of British Columbia with her husband and four children. She homeschools her children and writes poetry and short stories in her spare time. You can follow her on Instagram @emily_skulmoski and read more of her work at https://ofisandwas.substack.com/.
E R's previous work on Foreshadow:
God, Tell Me What It Means (Poetry, October 2023)