I Ask My Sister’s Ghost to Take Me with Her

Benjamin Gucciardi

Not because the reefs are bleaching.Because I want to see how thin the veil is.To row behind her in the boatshe came in, row all dayinto night and where the river turnsto delta, blade my oar to beach the dinghyon a bank of silt and cattail.Because I want to hide with herin midnight's swaying, turn my earsfrom the throng of bullfrogsto the harp song she hums,listen to her stories of its blind composer,how he charmed wives at the royal partiesin Dublin, his fingers sweepingeach glissando, his eyes clouded overlike a cod on ice, waiting to be salted.Because I want to watch a new sun stainthe sky with colors I've never seen,swaths I can only hint at with words—serpentine, tourmaline, silver.There is a Chinese symbol she taught me for a wordthat has no word, but I can never rememberhow to draw it, what toneto put in my throat when I speak it.The inked shape of that mutable mark hangsjust beyond the last branch of my mindas she turns to leave.There is nothing I can sayto convince her to take me,so I pluck the tongue from my mouthand lay it flat on a stone.When she bends to inspectthe petal, it becomes a red door.It creaks as she opens it,walks into the unspokenwithout turning back.

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Benjamin Gucciardi’s first book, West Portal, (University of Utah Press, 2021), was selected by Gabrielle Calvocoressi for the Agha Shahid Ali Prize in Poetry. He is also the author of the chapbook I Ask My Sister’s Ghost (DIAGRAM/New Michigan Press, 2020). His poems have appeared in AGNI, Alaska Quarterly Review, Best New Poets, Harvard Review, New Ohio Review, Orion Magazine, Southern Indiana Review and other journals. In addition to writing, he works with refugee and immigrant youth in Oakland, California.


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Harvard Review publishes new poetry, essays, fiction, drama, criticism, book reviews, and interviews. From its beginnings, the journal has been committed to showcasing the work of emerging writers alongside established voices—or, as we like to think of it, publishing writers who will be famous next to writers who already are.

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