Women painted as skeleton

Our Dead Come Home for Christmas
by Greta Bolger

What a surprise, the bony knock at the door just as we were sitting down to dinner, and then there they all were, wearing red sweaters, plaid pants, feathered hats and rhinestone brooches, witty costumes that, like them, had seen better days. Think Goodwill for ghouls. Sure, it was great to see them, their giant smiles and big eyes, though it was hard to tell them apart at first, but once they started talking, we knew who was who: Daddy Ralph and Roberta, Grandma T and Harry, Momma Sue and Red, young George and baby Ben. What a surprise, like I said, and Bob got out the video camera and interviewed them about the afterlife while the food got cold, and then we went into the living room to open presents and of course we didn’t have anything to give them because who knew? I tried to ignore the bone dust on the furniture and the incessant grinning, but I have to admit, I was glad when their time ran out and they trundled back down the front walk and back to wherever they came from. I know I sound selfish, but sheesh. That’s not what Christmas is all about, is it? And the videos were completely blank, not a trace they were ever here in the first place. The minute they left, I poured a double bourbon and lit myself a cigarette, my first one in eight and a half years.

PHOTO: “Day of the Dead Reindeer” by esp2k.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: This poem was originally published in Big Toe Review, a now-defunct online journal. Though perhaps it didn’t happen exactly this way, this poem captures the “spirit” of the holidays as they are experienced by this writer — awkward surprises and unwelcome encounters — that will, I’m guessing, feel familiar to many.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Greta Bolger writes, paints, and minds other people’s business (also an art form) from locations near Lake Michigan and Lake Atitlan. She has published poetry and prose in print and online journals, including The Chimaera, Juice Box, Mom Egg, Eclectica, Contemporary Haibun Online, Literary Bohemian, and others.