My Neighbors Make a Ghost

Listen to Stella Lei read her poem:



Out of chicken wire and stand       her in the yard, even though it isn’t Halloween, and branches still            quiver with leaves. When I touch her,             my fingers prick along the hem, raw wire biting to blood. This man-made haunt:                    empty skirt holding a woman    in place of a bird. At night, her limbs silver under streetlamps, needling        into light and suturing the dark with steel. How          many stitches make a girl? How many pieces molded by foreign                             hands, calluses pressed palm to palm? The way I hold                     pins between my teeth, never knowing                              where to sew. A beast arises only from its parts, sublime                 until they warp Any chimera is regal if you turn                     a certain way. Even Medusa was beautiful        once, before the sea, snakes, stone— immortalized                  by another man’s                             crime, yard filled with evidence                              of hurt. Manufactured monster, born by myth and raised by human                       hands How pliant, our nails            buckling against                        teeth, story inseparable from skin. Look:                           I keep wasting my years on rage, but who will I be                         when the knife falls.                      When all I have                            are my ordinary ghosts, so solid,                                          so permeable in the light.


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