Poetry / November 2009 (Issue 9)

Ghost Girls

by Phoebe Tsang

I painted my face white; a moon or a geisha.
Lock away her arms, she's mad, said father.
Isn't solitary confinement enough, pleaded mother.

Sister came down to the cellar with her brushes
to paint me free, but dropped the palette
on grandma's grave: red became
blood, earth drank it up, soon
a thousand ghostly girls with crimson
lips were dancing through the graveyard.

As the city fills with condos and malls,
the no man's land between the living
and the dead has shrunk
to a spidery thread anyone can cross.
Overpopulation is a common curse,
with generations of women forced
to share the same body.

If no one digs them up, corpses will sneak
through cracked foundations
or take the elevator from the parking lot
to hide like dummies in new clothes,
while girls bleed until they're pale as bones.

Editors' note: Read a review of Phoebe Tsang's Contents of a Mermaid's Purse by Reid Mitchell here.

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