1 poem

by bethany A. Breitland

OUr ghosts will smoke cigarettes together

I  look  forward to a long talk with you finally after  we’re  dead,  our  ghost legs
flopped  over  a  blackened  sill. The  storm window  with its rickety metal ridge
no   longer  cutting  into  the  backs  of  our thighs,  like  it  did  when  we  were
young,  perching  over the porch  roof to see  the moon  of the young corn. It’ll
be  cool  summer  nights  forever—Indiana,  crickets  singing—freight  trains  fat
with  silage  howling  across  the  flat  land. And we shall sit, our spirits  willing a
heft  into our backsides as we inhale.  And because we’re ghosts,  the tar smell
won’t  seep  into our hands  or hair  as it did  when we were  sisters—sure signs
we weren’t  the good of girls  we’d been raised  to be.


But we’re dead  now,  so we don’t  have to lie.  And we also don’t have to avoid
talking  about  the nuances  of love and violence  we were born into. How need
and  want  and  touch  and hate bundled  our bones  for kindling. It’s easier now
to feel safe  in my body  because I  don’t have  one. It’s easier now  to admit we
all were just  trying  to stub out a nightmare

                                                                     and instead,  we set the  fields on fire.

"Our Ghosts Will Smoke Cigarettes Together" was the winner of our 2017 Up North Poetry Prize

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Bethany A. Breitland

Born in rural northern Indiana, Bethany now lives with her family in a suburb of Atlanta, GA. She has taught high school, has been a bouncer in a bar, started and failed a clothing company, and dabbled in research. She is an MFA writing candidate at Vermont College of Fine Arts.