Girl/Ghost

childhood summers wrap hands around me, silver

with half-loving promises of shimmering heat,

and i’m turning my pockets inside out for loose

change—dimes and nickels for popsicles that evaporate

in the sun, leaving the taste of metal rising bitter

in my mouth. i collect these coins and ghosts,

light candles in my father’s church. i’m a ghost’s

remembrance of june, peeling the girl-silver

off from my eyes. my lips cherry-red, bitter

with popsicle stick splinters. i’m a mid-august heat

wave that kills thousands. i puddle, i evaporate,

i condense again. i’m the dark river and the loose

throat of the water singing. i’m the bible’s loose

woman and i dream about touching ghosts,

or a girl’s fingers where i’m wounded. i evaporate

like firework smoke in the morning. ghosthood silver

as bicycle wheels or asphalt in the summer heat.

girlhood as an unending wounding, bitter

to remember. i’m alone in the chapel with bitter

shadows around my ankles that beg to be let loose.

my body, victimless. this is the inevitable heat-

stroke that comes after the fire, girl becoming ghost

to curl up in my bed, to twine silver

fingers in my hair until she evaporates

in the morning. but didn’t we all evaporate

when the light hit us? i became the bitter-

ness of incense. i grew up in a house of silver

ghosts, buttoned my sisters’ dresses, gathered loose

cloth and baby blankets to stitch into quilts. ghosts

at the swimming pool and girls in the sun-heat

that white marble tombs radiate. summer heat

as a metaphor for a heaven that only evaporated

when i reached for it with hands that loved ghosts

more than god. girl-poison on my cheeks, bitter

as memory, not forgetting that whatever i lose

will find its way back: coins and june nights silver

and alight with firefly ghosts. a girl’s hands and the heat

she left behind. the silver on her eyes evaporated:

a girl’s mouth no longer bitter, a ghost’s love set loose.


a.s.w. lives on the East Coast of the US and never stops writing (but probably produces too much poetry about the moon and the ocean); thinks flowers and cats and eating berries are the best things in life; drinks far too much tea; and can be found as @avolitorial on Patreon and most social media.