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.
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.