This selection, chosen by guest curator Heather Leigh, is from Your Strange Fortune by Chloe N. Clark, released by Vegetarian Alcoholic Press in 2019.
Once for Yes and Twice for No
The Fox Sisters were known for their ability to speak with the dead. They listened
to the rap, rap, raps of the spirits knocking on walls, on tables, on the inside of
cabinets. The raps were letters spelling out secrets. They said a man had been
murdered. Buried beneath their house. Such secrets. Secrets
are better left unsaid. Sometimes, Maggie and Kate Fox
would try to close doors, cover their ears, not listen. The public called for more,
for more, voices like pounding. The taste of alcohol was sweet compared to the
pounding. Maggie dreamed of the sky
bleeding into her skin whenever she went
out at night. The stars in her veins shimmered and fell. She didn’t ever wish upon
them. What could she have wished for? Kate began to manifest the spirits onto
stages across America. They shimmered and shook. The spirits never
asked for much. Rapping,
rapping. After years, the sisters finally admitted to fraud. The rapping merely the
cracking of their toes done in unison. “We only wanted to play a joke on Mama,” they
said. Voices shaking
Years later, children playing in the ruins of the old Fox house
found white sticking out of the ground. So chalky-colored, so smooth.
The bones of a man, murdered some said.