Dead Girl

by Christina Olson

On the Friday night newsmagazine program, the dead
girl’s photos are always tragic: out-of-focus at the last
Christmas. A duck-lip selfie pulled from Instagram.
One from a friend: the dead girl at a party, sandwiched
between identical-looking girls. When the friend holds
this photo, she smiles before she sobs. Ken Burns
doesn’t have much to choose from, but these girls
should know better. They should have a press kit
waiting. I make my mother promise that when I am dead
she will choose the photos carefully. We say tomorrow
we will take some nice ones in front of the confederate
jasmine blooming out front. We cluck as we refill
our glasses during the commercials. My mother
tops off branch water with bourbon from a bottle
with a horse on it. We make bets on which blurred
picture will be the first shown after the break. I say
one with a birthday cake. My mother disagrees,
says we are halfway done. So it will be the artsy
one from a high school photography assignment.
The dead girl will be out in the salt marsh at the golden
hour. Whichever classmate took that photo got it right:
the silver of the cordgrass, the girl posed as if she is leaving.

Christina Olson’s most recent poetry collection is Terminal Human Velocity (Stillhouse Press, 2017). Her poems and creative nonfiction have also appeared in The Atlantic, Arts & Letters, AQR, Virginia Quarterly Review, The Southern Review, Brevity, and The Best Creative Nonfiction, Volume 3. She teaches at Georgia Southern University, lives online at, and tweets about mastodons and coneys as @olsonquest.