In elementary school I clung to ghosts to try to prove I
wasn’t afraid of them. I found them everywhere I looked.
The soft creak of a loose floorboard, the hinge of a door opening,
photographs of people who soon forgot my name, the sudden chill
slipping through my body in the middle of swollen July. I still
remember that summer my body was haunted by fever. My veins
threaded by smoldering smoke, my body an apparition stuck
between a whisper and a scream. That summer, contusions bloomed
across my skin in place of inked mandalas and friendship bracelets.
I dreamed of warmth that wasn’t empty. I dreamed of Before,
but After left me pulling at the edges of the night sky, trying
to paint myself blue to cover the transparencies. Listen,
if I press my hand up to the sun I can still see right through
its gossamer threads. Press my body against the mirror and
I disappear. Listen, I said I wasn’t afraid of ghosts but
I must admit I’m afraid to look at my reflection.
By Adriana Carter
Adriana Carter is a sophomore at Stanford University. Her poetry and prose have been recognized by the Alliance for Young Artists and Writers and the UK Poetry Society. Adriana is also currently the co-prose editor for the Leland Quarterly, a literary journal based at Stanford.