by December Lace

Mother wheezing pneumonia breaths and
Father slamming the last of the liquor down
His screaming throat drove me into the rubbish strewn city
To try to find a buyer of thin sticks that ignite waning flame when struck

Rushing bodies slam into me, ice block shins and knees that carve my temple
Constables crush my spirits, giving chase to an unattended child
My faucet nose rubs hard against the threadbare shawl,
Eyes tear from rotting cabbage and dead fish carts 

The roasted nuts are empty promises my barren belly can’t take
Burning sugar tormenting my mouth, glazed stares of strangers
Twilight falls on the gaslit streets
My legs feel like they’re anchors in a frozen lake

Crowds thin, exiting shops, entering homes with presents and beef
There are no coins in my hands from a day of trudging in the streets
A lonely corner of a building and shed off a darkened alley
Offers seclusion from the roaming law and windows of feasts 

Bringing a frostbitten finger closer to my plum colored lips
I strike what wares I have to gather some kind of light
The hunger, frost, and despair have conjured an image
Warmer than the flames themselves

In the fire I see the spirit of my deceased grandmother
Welcoming me, kind eyes engaging me, holding me in, mystifying me
With inset pictures (deeper still) of a hearth and knitting

The match goes out and my fingers switch numb
I flick another, out of curiosity and ache; the hearth is still there,
My grandmother roasting a goose in more flames, a small table set

The flame dies, my fingers twitching for the burn
I light them all at once and my grandmother’s magic combusts
My grandmother encircles me in her honey glow, magic warmth 

Apron hugs of home where wooden spoons mix cookies
and aren’t used to blacken limbs; I lapse against the side
of the shadowed building; a pile of rags huddled around a droplet of flame

I feel so warm


December Lace is a former professional wrestler and pinup model. She has appeared in the Chicago Tribune, the Chicago Sun-Times, Pro Wrestling Illustrated, TPG, Empower Magazine, The Molotov Cocktail, Pussy Magic Lit, Lonesome October, Erie Tales,Awkward Mermaid and Rhythm & Bones YANYR Anthology as well as the forthcoming Ghostlight, The Magazine of Terror, 24Unread Messages, The Cabinet of Heed, Three Drops From A Cauldron, and Rhythm & Bones Dark Marrow. She loves Batman, burlesque, and things that go bump in the night. She can be found on Twitter @TheMissDecember, or in the obscure bookshops of Chicago.