“Dig up the Dead, Make them Pose for a Family Picture” by Carol Stewart

It was the moistening I found most disturbing;
damp cotton wool on a stick pushed between
puce withered lips which could offer no objection,
no consent.

Pinky-dick in a sapped, sagging orifice.

Facial rape.

Rather a cigarette and a Daiquiri.

There, that should be

much fresher for you now.

I watch the clock, regular as platitudes,
check my watch –


unlike a baby’s rattle,
this breathing –

a child would be pounding the walls.

And her face,
white as the sheet used by Mister C
to conceal himself in the cupboard where he drilled those holes

through the bathroom wall.

Hard to watch the news at the time of the Lockerbie bombing,
saw the crater from the fast lane,
back-seat passengers snapping away
click after click after –

Today it would be all over

social media:

Censure the insensitive!
Purge the Peeping Tom!
Sick fuck, they’d rage. Voyeur.

But this, this was expected,
like flowers on her birthday when she’d rather we didn’t,
couldn’t bear to see them wilt away,
water dribbled into a dusty old vase.

There… that’s brightened up the room
 no end.

It was much the same with Dad,
only then Mum had been doing the watching
along with her too-supportive friend,
registered blind.

They’d fallen out over the bible;
Mum never did believe
Mary was a virgin,
called her religion blind faith;
holding hands and praying,
buying time like a bunch of Crysanths
might last fourteen days –
wouldn’t let a dog die this way,
screamed at senior staff.

She told me, go,
plant cheerfulness bulbs.

Screen Shot 2020-01-31 at 1.38.07 PMCarol Stewart is a mother and grandmother living in the Scottish Borders. A former freelance editor, her poems have recently been published (or are forthcoming) in a number of journals including Abstract Contemporary Expressions, That (Literary Review), Gravitas, Panoply, Coffin Bell, Buddy and The Beautiful Cadaver Project.