When speaking to the dead

When speaking to the dead,
we learn to throw our voice.
To cough and cry on command.

To pull the ribbon from our throats
and bleed as needed. No sooner
have we mastered moving the salt

shaker across the table, we’re expected
to crack the bones in our ankles
loud enough to hit the mark.

Loud enough to echo through
a darkened room full of held breath.
Windows flung open and candles

sputtering into black. I have a knack
for producing a toad from my throat
at the drop of a hat. For speaking

in strange tongues and the accents of strangers.
The danger is believing in it all too much.
The ecstasy of lying our way into truth,

eyes rolling in our heads.