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

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“Alms For The Birds”

What is ceremony? It’s day in,
day out. It’s the feeding
in the morning. It’s breath
still leaving you. What is sky
burial? It’s ritual. Funerary
Tibetan practice—leave the loved
one on a mountain. Piece
by piece, let vultures take
a death away. Sometimes I want
time to pass. This is the watch
I wear each day. This is tea
I drink in the evening. There
is the neighbor, the mother,
the friend. Point out strange,
familiar signs. How is it—
the days demand more,
demand less? I’ll pause
here. What is it like to want loss
picked clean?


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.

Ben McClendon is a PhD student in creative writing at the University of Tennessee. He previously studied poetry at Northern Arizona University after teaching high school English for several years. His poems have appeared in Indiana Review, Yemassee, Ceasura, Chariton Review, Redivider, Rattle, and elsewhere. He is currently Assistant Poetry Editor for Grist: The Journal for Writers and a poetry editor for Four Ties Lit Review. Ben lives with his husband in Knoxville.

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