The Year We Got Rid of Our Ghosts

Hands full of safe, we burned
a blaze in every doorway,
traced the lines of each other,
left saltwater in corners,
washed the floors
with our own intentions, rose petals
and lavender trailing behind.

Your house, its windows shut,
its door locked, smoke drifting
from the chimney, proof
of life, threadbare
and quickly vanishing.
How do you love
what you cannot keep?
How do you love
what you left behind?

My house, a cascade of light
and shadows, hands
gathering this new darkness,
heart leaning too far
in all directions, stretching
for the sun, the trick
of fingers across skin,
a sweet laugh.
How do I exorcise
this banshee heart?
How do I keep this wild thing

We’ve kept our silence
better than any secret,
tended it like a garden
full of nightshade,
foolish flames
hidden in the dirt,
love starved to the bone,
all ribs, all want,
all absence—
but the sky hasn’t given up
its stars, bright and impossible
against every second
of the past.

This is a new moment,
the first song of love
after years of departure,
a chill wind turning
stopped chimes into music,
forgetting keys
to doors
in places we no longer
belong, replacing
every distance
with a kiss—
daring to believe
in a dream built
with crooked fingers,
slanted possibilities
angling for attention.

No one loses
what they love—
the ocean may become
a storm, but it is still
water, it still craves being,
becoming, relearning
itself, reuniting
all the old-new spaces.

Our bodies,
from skin to sin,
are fashioned into candles,
scars into sigils,
we are burning a new beginning
out of the old mess,
the familiar sound
of ghosts
returning back
to life.

(Editors’ Note: “The Year We Got Rid of Our Ghosts” is read by Erika Ensign on the Uncanny Magazine Podcast Episode 23B.)


Ali Trotta

Ali Trotta is a poet, editor, dreamer, word-nerd, and unapologetic coffee addict. Her poetry has appeared in Uncanny, The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, Nightmare, Fireside, Strange Horizons, Mermaids Monthly, and Cicada magazines, as well as in The Best of Uncanny from Subterranean Press. She has a poem forthcoming in Asimov’s. Her short fiction has appeared in Curtains, a flash fiction anthology. A geek to the core, she’s previously written TV show reviews for Blastoff Comics, as well as a few personal essays. Ali’s always scribbling on napkins, looking for magic in the world, and bursting into song. When she isn’t word-wrangling, she’s being a kitchen witch, hugging an animal, or pretending to be a mermaid. Follow her on Twitter as @alwayscoffee or subscribe to her TinyLetter. Four of her poems, including three for Uncanny, were Rhysling Award nominees.

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment. You can register here.