A CONDITION WITHOUT GHOSTS | Abigail Chabitnoy

Image: The Dark Queen

A CONDITION WITHOUT GHOSTS

I hadn’t seen the woman from Chicago in months
though the guy still walked their hulking labrador.

But this was the city in sickness
and in health, it wasn’t polite to impose.

Under what conditions might a sheet by the road
not assume a body? The shroud

stained funereal so near to the point
of some levied labor.

Is there a condition in which a ghost
is not suspected?

Plastic bags trawl the landscape. Stone
beds wait for us to seed.

The clementines congeal into the grapes
shrink past sweetness and affix themselves

in the rot of last month’s spinach. Already dust
settles in the bedroom and piss from a recalculating cat

shadows the tile in the study
if you know where to look.

Last week I found a sand dollar with only a small hole
left of center, I reminded myself

even the winged rats had to eat, had to
play some part, so we’re told.

Even birds, requiring something solid to alight
have been known to thread the nest with our disposal.

This morning I saw the black spot
my left ovary a cavity

from which my ark had wrested in motion.
But what about the body

that might or might not have been
underneath the sheet?

The condition always the same:

Let me be some manner of ship
or yes, again, a fish

suited to these streets

Abigail Chabitnoy, member of the Tangirnaq Native Village in Kodiak, is the author of How to Dress a Fish (Wesleyan 2019), shortlisted for the 2020 International Griffin Prize for Poetry and winner of the 2020 Colorado Book Award, and the linocut illustrated chapbook Converging Lines of Light (Flower Press 2021). Her poems have appeared in Hayden’s Ferry Review, Boston Review, Tin House, Gulf Coast, LitHub, and Red Ink, among others. She currently teaches at the Institute of American Indian Arts and Eastern Oregon University low-residency MFA programs as well as Lighthouse in Denver. Find her at salmonfisherpoet.com.

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