In my Great Grandmother’s Grave, Channeling Holmes

by Michelle Bitting

Somewhere in the lots of Forest Lawn Cemetery
your ribs are disintegrating to inscrutable grey
dust. It’s cold in your coffin of black shellac, our satin
carton, our airless island of no escape. The trees
keep weeping and we’ve got work to do. Houdini
with his winched pirouettes won’t wriggle past these
terminal locks. Who puts keyholes in coffins, anyway?
I want to burgle the dead. You’ve got trick jewels and I know it.
But my eyes without light have no clue. I’m on a trail
and the crimes are green, bloody, lucrative. Manly,
mainly. On paper—lapidary when exhumed. The mined
shaft always shows. Glow, I wish I could, and have cooked
you something nice before you died. I don’t know
your favorites, but I could guess, feed myself into boots
of hounds-tooth and imagine steamed puddings
(you were English) some tapas of braised tongue
with spiced aioli (a part of you, Spain) drips of absinthe
for dessert—our sleep of choice when the dream’s too
live and I’m still here, under glass, tramping weeds
from upside-down, kicking dead sidewalks, the grass
you keep sighing under in my elementary mind.


Michelle Bitting is the author of five collections of poetry, Good Friday Kiss, winner of the inaugural De Novo First Book Award (C & R Press); Notes to the Beloved which won the Sacramento Poetry Center Book Award (reissued by C & R Press); The Couple Who Fell to Earth (C & R Press); Broken Kingdom, winner of the 2018 Catamaran Poetry Prize, and Nightmares & Miracles (Two Sylvias Press, 2022), winner of the Wilder Prize. Michelle is a lecturer in Poetry and Creative Writing at Loyola Marymount University and Film Studies at University of Arizona Global.

Image: Sarah J. Sloat

Image description: a collage with a miniature man in blue walking by a lush green tree, a strip of black with a white pattern, and a large opaque circle rimmed in silver.

1 thought on “In my Great Grandmother’s Grave, Channeling Holmes”

  1. This is such a marvelous formatting & presentation of a poem that is very near and dear! Thank you so very much–I am wowed and deeply pleased. I will make a big to-do of posting and linking to the website later today.  Kindest regards and a sublime, warm, & delicious holiday season to you all at the majestic Psaltery & Lyre. Yours, Michelle

    Michelle Bitting, MFA, MA, PhDshe/her/hers Lecturer Department of English Nightmares & Miracles Broken KingdomThe Couple Who Fell to

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