Illustration by Amy Suzanne
Siren of Smoke
At library table, button back chair,
scoot close to examine the volumes laid
bare. One illuminated by her flare
in midair, Siren of Smoke, who glissades
somewhere. Abandons candlestick. Forfeits
the flame. First tome opens wide. Pictures
explain, specters diagrammed, recorded
peculiarities. Ghosts have strictures,
a host of species. Notation by one
with dripping red lips, mother it says,
below lunar eclipse, spells some have done
for selective mortality, for eyes
that water, mouths that feed – at which you choke.
Consequence of enlightenment is smoke.
Haunted by mere molecules, stifling air,
smoldering scent, September fare, a pile
of leaves someone made to burn amidst rare
volumes, lessons unlearned. Candlestick child
once kept upstairs, in bell sleeves, liquefied
pink nightmares, lit by a taper she
one day will be to waft here alongside
a tragedy. Incandescent only
so very few nights with so many truths
to bring to light. Bright black beeswax she could
conserve; her flames finite as answers, proof
undeserved. How could any subject trust
an accomplice to this experiment?
Light for a life, you could choke on its scent.
Siren of Smoke and Phantosmia both introduce a new character in Crow Carriage known as the Siren of Smoke. The Siren of Smoke is a ghost of a subject who killed herself by drinking a bottle of laudanum left too close at hand in the room of the subjects. The subjects are adolescent captives of the evil Doctor who is attempting to cure Addison’s Disease by producing and extracting cortisol in young women he keeps in a perpetual nightmare state.
The leaving of laudanum close to the young subjects was a mistake not repeated by The Doctor and his staff. After the girl ingests the bottle and dies, though her body escapes Willowbee Manor, her soul does not. She hides herself in a boiler pot of beeswax for candles. Her soul is distributed among fifteen tapers. Each time one burns, she appears in the smoke, dancing as was her great passion. When the candles are all used, her haunting will also be extinguished.
Kristin Garth is a Pushcart, Best of the Net & Rhysling nominated sonnet stalker. Her sonnets have stalked journals like Glass, Yes, Five:2:One, Luna Luna and more. She is the author of seventeen books of poetry including Pink Plastic House (Maverick Duck Press), Crow Carriage (The Hedgehog Poetry Press), Flutter: Southern Gothic Fever Dream (TwistiT Press), The Meadow (APEP Publications) and Golden Ticket forthcoming from Roaring Junior Press. She is the founder of Pink Plastic House a tiny journal and co-founder of Performance Anxiety, an online poetry reading series. Follow her on Twitter: (@lolaandjolie) and her website kristingarth.com