A stranger to this winter city flushed blue
with fallen snow, I touch metal to make light
to walk until I think I break a train. A rough
voice jeers at me, What the hell is wrong with you?
Mathematics informs me I no longer want
you. Still, I remain the one who slinks
down to a wet and wretched creature
whenever I see your face: still, my voice
catches in my throat hard as a coin. Still,
my hands shake pallid as a specter even
after two years without your body near.
On the north side of town, littlenecks
coddle in warm butter while girls in black
boots tromp through curbside pots of slush
and gasoline. Over wine sparkling in tavern
firelight, my most logical friend tells me
how she once met a ghost on the stairs
of the old house we shared years ago,
how she first heard the footsteps of nothing
at all, then felt a gust of cold air as it passed
her by. Her eyes fearful, she did not deserve
this witching hour affliction from a spirit
she has since learned was a girl scorned
by her family for running off with an artist,
her unseen phantom only women now
can sense, and in a house of eight women,
only my friend. Why wasn’t it lovelorn me?
New city, new lovers, nothing matters. Spirit,
on a snow-laced street, you are the lamppost
caught wild in flame. This you still know:
if I sensed your footsteps racing towards me,
if I felt your rush and if I heard you call out
my name, Spirit, still, I would turn.
Anne Barngrover’s first book, Yell Hound Blues, was recently published with Shipwreckt Books, and her chapbook, Candy in Our Brains, co-written with Avni Vyas, came out with CutBank this spring. She is currently a PhD student in Poetry at University of Missouri.