The Wardrobe’s Best Dressed: “System of Ghosts” by Lindsay Tigue

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“Solitary, Imaginary”

At our new house, empty scrap
framed weedy earth, but my mother said:
a perfect sandbox.

The sand came from a store, but I still hoped
to find a shell, the smell of sea,
some smooth-edged bottle glass sifted
from dunes.

I’d drag lines in the mineral grain
with my plastic rake. I’d dream
summer on Hampton Beach, New Hampshire’s
thin eyelash of coast.

I’d remember burying my limbs,
how I splashed steps into waves. How I
called my imaginary plans:
I’ll chase the water out until it’s gone.

These days, I live alone
and sit near a computer. All day,
I stare. And when the electricity goes out
with its slapped silence,

I act like I’m not thrilled, that I don’t love
to meet neighbors in the street. Do you
have power? I ask. Do you have light?


This selection comes from Lindsay Tigue’s collection System of Ghosts available now from University of Iowa Press. Purchase your copy here.

Lindsay Tigue is the author of System of Ghosts, winner of the 2015 Iowa Poetry Prize and published in April 2016 by the University of Iowa Press. She writes poetry and fiction and her work appears in Prairie SchoonerBlackbird, Indiana Reviewdiode, and Cream City Review, among other journals. She was a Tennessee Williams Scholar at the Sewanee Writers’ Conference and has received a James Merrill fellowship from the Vermont Studio Center. She is a graduate of the MFA program in Creative Writing and Environment at Iowa State University and is a current PhD student in Creative Writing at the University of Georgia. She works as the current assistant to the editors at the Georgia Review and lives in Athens, Georgia.

Staci R. Schoenfeld is a recipient of 2015 NEA Fellowship for Poetry, grants from the Barbara Deming Memorial Fund and the Kentucky Foundation for Women, and residencies from the Ragdale Foundation and Albee Foundation. She is a PhD student at University of South Dakota, assistant editor for poetry at South Dakota Review, and an assistant editor at Sundress Publications. Recent and forthcoming publications include poems in Mid-American ReviewSouthern Humanities Review, and Room Magazine, fiction in Gingerbread House Literary Magazine, and non-fiction in The Manifest Station.

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