“Open House” by Allan Nicoletti

Allan Nicoletti, RN, BSN


It’s the Day of the Dead. I send out invitations,
set extra places at the table. Guests arrive. Everyone is
polite, nothing like you’d think, nothing like the movies
so preoccupied with flesh. My grandma Laura has grown
indistinct. Her candy dish is full of dust. There is the smell
of fresh baked bread drifting from her green house,
drifting the length of the endless driveway where
we learned to skate. I ask her about a nightmare
I had there. The room had sunk to the bottom of the sea.
Door hinges turned to sea snakes. A giant crab sat on the floor.
She tells my mother that I am strange and smiles and offers
the empty dish, a taste of dust. I ask about grandpa.
He’s at the mouth of the Klamath. Where would you be?
Nicole arrives with Garland and Little John.
I cannot speak. We sit out back by the pool of grief.
A crew from the morgue crashes the party. The word is out.
The door is open. The full moon sinks with the Seven Sisters trailing,
portending our doom. I point it out over a glass of wine
to all within earshot. The dead find this funny. All manner
of howling ensues. I begin to loosen up, begin to enjoy myself.
This is my kind of party. I don’t ever have to get out of my chair.
I could do this every weekend, open house for the dead.
There is, of course, the danger, like hanging out with the wrong kids
after school. I begin to take chances. Charlie Sevenoaks
challenges me to a game of truth or dare. Dare, I say,
and find myself standing on the roof overlooking the pool.
Oh I can fly, no problem—I’m not afraid of anything.

from Rattle #28, Winter 2007

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