She sent the box of silver and all my baby pictures with no explanation. It runs in the family; her grandmother used to take me to the plot she bought 40 years before she died. “This is where you will sit and miss me.” My step-father says it’s hysteria, an illness can do this, with his clavicle peeking from under a stained t-shirt, an overburdened clothes line holding an off- white sheet. It bothers him when she picks up her dead hand and poses it like a stuffed bear having tea. The good hand she uses to operate one wheel of the chair she carries her bones in, with the slow resignation of General Lee after half the south was already picked clean. The two of them together is like a photograph left in the elements: a couple on a bench, the color bleeding out, pieces of celluloid flecking away, orange beginning to predominate. When I was a little girl she told me not to fear death. She taught me to believe in Nostradamus, the presence of spirits, and Christ reborn, only without the church to set me straight I saw him like a movie zombie—his face peeling away, empty eye sockets and 3 crooked fingers emerging from the dirt.

Erika Eckart’s prose poems have appeared in Double Room, Quick Fiction, Quarter After Eight, Quiditty, and Women’s Studies Quarterly. When not writing, she teaches English at a public high school on Chicago’s southside and makes vegan baked goods for her husband and two very little children.