Nick Allen Herink
THE BOY BENEATH THE FLOORBOARDS OR POE HAD IT WRONG
I was dead by two a.m. Dismembered skillfully. My heart held in your palms as it pulsed narcoleptic. Not a drop of my blood touched the ground – of that you made sure. You bundled me up tightly. Placed me underneath your floorboards, told me, “Keep quiet. Don’t want to disturb the neighbors.” – and I did.
The stories weren’t true. This murder named runaway, named lost accident, named perfectly timed suicide – collected dust beneath your footsteps – silent like you asked. Peeking through the gaps to catch glimpses of your cracked lips, of your menthol eyes, of your dark curls. Spied as you began to write one-eyed poetry on your forearms with ballpoint pens and eat oatmeal from teacups while watching syndicated comedies on late night television – and you thought you got away with it all.
Dig me up. Dust off my ribcage. Take me dancing. But be gentle – move slow. These bones are rickety. They creek in the daylight but sound like music after dark. Xylophone my backbone with your thumbs, fiddle my sternum with your chin, harmonica my clavicle with your lips, snare drum my pelvis with your heartbeat. Find it in yourself to call me beautiful with the lights on, to take these bones home to meet your mother – your sister – your father too, write I love you with your fingertips on my shoulder blades, hold me tightly when I told you don’t leave.
Boy, you made me more than flesh did – like blood – metallic and beautiful. Your smiles set moths loose in my belly. Filled my emptiness – shook off my ghosts.
Listen carefully – bundle me up tightly. Place me underneath your floorboards – you’ll know where to find me.