THE UNHAUNTING / A LOVE LETTER TO THE WRITERS
this is not like the exorcisms
of the medieval christian past.
our candles smell like vanilla and pumpkin spice,
our soundtrack is “night changes.”
we don’t wear the ceremonial robes,
unless the sacred intimate comfort of
pink penguin pajama pants counts.
usually we are not in the same room.
we send poems to each other about the ghosts that
whisper poison into our bones.
the wind rattles the window panes,
but our voices remain firm.
the ghosts fall silent for the rituals,
tense but docile.
the silence, the relief, is more potent
than any drug we’ve ever tried.
we chase the high,
drunk on the purging.
somehow, all of that makes sense at night—
the witching hour,
the magic hour,
the vulnerable-after-a-long-day-of-pretending hour.
it takes time. more than we’d like.
sometimes our breath catches, like fabric on a branch—
a sob wrenched from somewhere deeper than logic.
the words burn on the way out.
“better out than in,” i mutter darkly
as i cough grief into the crook of my elbow—
and it is.
we bathe in twenty-first century holy water,
the cheap wine from the corner store we can afford,
believing not in the god who watched us suffer
but in the selves that emerged from the ashes.
our bodies are no longer populated
by extraneous hauntings.
we keep whispering the poems,
the new ones about healing,
to ward the ghosts away.
it started with the damned,
but it ended with us,
warm in pajamas and dancing
to a happier one direction song,
toasting the end of witching,
the start of a pink dawn.
By Zaynab Quadri
Zaynab Quadri is a 22-year-old Northwestern graduate from the Chicagoland area who scribbles poems in a blue notebook during commutes to and from downtown. She enjoys Christmas lights, hot chocolate, and existential crises set to the dulcet tones of One Direction. (Zayn is still her favorite.) This bio took her far too long to write, because publishing for an audience wider than her Tumblr followers is a brand new adventure. She thanks you sincerely for your time.