Savannah Skinner

A Guide to Recognizing Your Ghost

The night you ascended

the stairs with our wet clothes clutched to your chest,

we saw the ghost your mother saw

when she decided you were missing.

When I was outside your window, you said you recognized me

by the back of my neck, said you knew

the days were over when your father untied his boots

at night.           I tell you whole truths after you fall asleep

in the hallway & know you can’t hear

my voice over radio static, whole truths

I can’t tell you while your eyes are open.

When we drove past the mural they painted over

last year in red, I told you I was recreating

the first sounds you ever heard outside

your mother’s oceanic deafness: your father’s

Darth Vader impression, his muffled voice

whispering I am your father       your mother’s voice whispering

I still feel you like a phantom limb       your sisters rustling

in the dark of the house.       I watched your father disappear

into the barn, but that was three years ago;

now your house is full-up with people I’ve never met,

a baby you’ve never held (but write lullabies for in summer

when it’s cool enough to sing),

dogs who watch me from the porch steps

& curl up on your mattress while you’re away, until

you’ve been gone so long they can’t remember the way you smell.

<< Cannon Fodder 
i am the stone >>

Savannah Skinner is (perpetually) a senior history and English (creative writing) double major at SUNY Geneseo. She hails from Franklinville, NY, a town in the Southern Tier that actually boasts one stoplight. Savannah lived the first two decades of her life without ever trying a cherry, and aspires to never go to Olive Garden.