» Poetry

Metaphorical Ghosts


There are so many ways to describe

            the fact that we die and are reborn


countless times: the New Year’s resolution list,

            the myth of a phoenix rising from ashes,


the box of hair dye and the scissors, the poets:

            dying is an art, like everything else.


I do it exceptionally well.

            I do it so it feels like hell.


But no one ever talks about the ghosts.

            The dead ones that that turn your bones


into a creaky, old haunted mansion.

            And no one talks about how frequently girls die


in a lifetime. Girl after girl after girl after girl.

            Some of them are mischievous and hopeful,


frolicking in your ribcage like a child who thinks

            everything will turn out all right.


Yet some of them are screaming.

            And when you hear the way she cried out,


again, it keeps you up at night. You don’t know

            how to escape her, banish her,


remove her like a threatening mass. But some of them

            you encounter in the night like lost strangers.


That girl that walked the pier barefoot

            in a fluorescent bikini with other girls,


that girl who hated herself so much

            she had no understanding of the power


of her body. But the water’s rhythm, hungrily

            tonguing the sand, spoke its subliminal language:


the eros that promised it would erupt in waves

            within her body underneath a boy’s body.  So that


when the boys came along, sunned and shirtless

            in their glistening madness, and told the girls


to jump off the ledge, chanting, do it, just do it,

            don’t think about it, and the idea of drowning


passed briefly overhead like the shadow of a seagull,

            she leapt in. And the boys laughed, caught it all on film.


And you know she made it to the surface again,

            gasping life more forcefully than ever,


and the water droplets on her body

            were proof of her glittering courage,


toweled off a beat too slowly by the boys,

            and you know it was fine—it was, yes, it was fine—


she survived, she giggled, she gave the boys her number,

            so who then is this young girl that just coughed


salted sand onto your poem with seaweed in her hair?



Anne Champion

Anne Champion is the author of The Good Girl is Always a Ghost (Black Lawrence Press, 2018), She Saints & Holy Profanities (Quarterly West, 2019), Reluctant Mistress (Gold Wake Press, 2013), Book of Levitations (Trembling Pillow Press, 2019), and The Dark Length Home (Noctuary Press, 2017). Her poems have appeared in Verse Daily, Prairie Schooner, Salamander, Crab Orchard Review, Epiphany Magazine, The Pinch, The Greensboro Review, New South, and elsewhere. She was a 2009 Academy of American Poet’s Prize recipient, a Barbara Deming Memorial grant recipient, a 2015 Best of the Net winner, and a Pushcart Prize nominee. She currently teaches writing and literature in Texas.