in a black and invisible dress
I am a ghost and I haunt my body like a house. No one knows there’s a ghost
in here. They only see the house. Inside, I’m haunting. A phantom passing
through walls and ventricles. Drifting down hallways, through vena cava. Ghost
boy. Ghost girl. The creak on the stairway and the wind through the eaves. Boo.
Won’t you come in? They’d rather stay in the yard, looking at the slope of the roof
and the hang of the curtains. The length of the lawn. The daffodils in the garden
and the bicycle leaning against the fence. So that’s the kind of house it is. They’d
rather look at the house in relation to other houses (my body in proximity to other
bodies). So that’s the kind of neighborhood it’s in. Poor ghost.
Sometimes I paint the house purple. Hang up windchimes. Let birds nest in the
raingutter. Let dandelions go to seed in the long grass. Oh, what a lovely shade
of violet. Oh! I thought it was lilac. They look next door. The neighborhood hasn’t
changed much. See, it’s the same old body, same old house, just a new coat of paint. Poor ghost. Some nights I beam signals out through the windows, flick the lightswitches
on and off. Some nights I moan and drag chains across the floorboards. No one comes
to investigate. They only believe what they see. What they don’t believe doesn’t even
exist. They see a house, that’s all. Look, someone left a light on in the attic. Listen, is
that the wind through the eaves?
By Jessie Lynn McMains
Jessie Lynn McMains (aka Rust Belt Jessie) is a writer and zine-maker, and the 2016-2017 Poet Laureate of Racine, Wisconsin. She is a two-time Pushcart Prize nominee for fiction. Her words have recently appeared in The Chapess, New Pop Lit, Rising Phoenix Review, Voicemail Poems, and Paper & Ink. Forthcoming publications include: The Girl With the Most Cake (a self-published chapbook), What We Talk About When We Talk About Punk (a prose collection from Pioneers Press/Punch Drunk Press), and a poetry collaboration with Misha Brandon Speck.