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Evelyn Berry

how to banish a ghost

ritual is just another name for the habits

grief carves from a mourner’s tongue.

you empty your mouth

until you’re a rabid song

knee-sunk in your mother’s garden.

prayers a rift language forgot to bridge

between bells & the human body. did you want to die

a perfect person? every martyr dies hungry.

i never forgave you. your anger scared me

like a doe fenderstruck. you told me

about visions from god,

& i asked how miracle was possible.

i can spit & call it ocean,

but that does not make my mouth a fount of salt.

the only thing i’ve ever spoken into existence is myself, right now.

the only thing i know of god is shard-scattered in the river,

discarded jug we used to carry water home.

if i could, i swear, i would collect every piece of you.

even your milk teeth worn around my neck.

i am the relic-nostalgic apostate

asking a dead man to forgive me my blasphemy— the debris of our joy is

glorious, terrifying.

rapture is just another name for forgetting.


Evelyn Berry is a transgender author, editor, & museum educator. She is the author of the poetry chapbook BUGGERY, winner of the 2020 BOOM Chapbook Prize from Bateau Press. She is also the recipient of the Dr. Linda Veldheer Memorial Prize, Emrys Poetry Prize, KAKALAK Poetry Award, and Broad River Prize for Prose, among other honors. Her recent work has appeared in Beloit Poetry Journal, Raleigh Review, Anti-Heroin Chic, beestung, Taco Bell Quarterly, and elsewhere.

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