Poetry by Barbara Jane Reyes



A ghost is a dissolving self who is dissolving because she has little else to do except dissolve. She lingers as no one has given her permission to leave the room. She waits for them to summon her, to refill their rice, to make their coffee, to bring more beer from the ice box. The game’s on and there are guests. Surely, they will call. She will stand in her corner and fold her hands until they call. She will wait.


A ghost is a dissolving self sequestered in the shadows of others. Here, her silence is given. If she sings, if she sobs, visitors will wonder whether they heard a sound. Others will say it is the wind. They will say no soul is here. She may tip over vases, rattle the window panes, but they will say mice. They will say a speeding truck has shifted the foundation. She is a tiny night tremor, and they are soon lulled back into the amnesia of who cooked their supper, who washed their dishes. How they punished her as she would not shush.



A ghost is a dissolving self whose body is sucked of all essence and fight. Wisps where luscious tresses once buoyed by air. Open sores where follicles and bits of flesh have been pulled and pulled again. Eye sockets gaping, scratched and dulled orbs. So much hanging skin. Varicose veins fat spiders overrun the limbs. Shells of dead beetles where once cashmere cooed and purred. Chalk and mothballs where dormant orchids once bloomed from all cavities. It is icy wherever you are. You lipstick has feathered. Mascara and salt in clumps. All sags and wilts. Why are you still here. Why haven’t you disappeared.



A ghost is a dissolved self stressing about what to wear to her own dissolution. In a backless evening dress, every segment of your spine shows. If they see your scars, they will want you to present every terrible detail. Serve these to them with the banquet you have prepared. Let them savor the fragrant steam of you, jasmine tea, coriander, bamboo. Your bones have been simmering so long, your meat just melts away. Render your fat with love, and ladle yourself into their open mouths.



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