Ghosts in the Archive

A Special Feature Edited by Jennifer Loyd

though we all know that nothing happens / only when it happens
                             —Ross Gay, Be Holding

If she gave me a map to the world as she knew it, a world plotted by divine order, spirit in everything, I could navigate it.                                                                
Jestmyn Ward, Sing, Unburied, Sing

History devours the individual. One life at a time, it amalgamates individual voices into the maw of broad historical narratives. An archive, as history’s “museum,” is stocked with the extant and the documentable, and as such, any archive is also fraught with holes, static, and broken connections. 

Who (and/or what) exists in these gaps? Poets working with (or against or around) an archive must grapple with this missing, with the difference between a curated archive and the unknowns of the past. Eavan Boland made this distinction when she described herself as a poet, not of history, but of the past, “a place of whispers and shadows and vanishings,” of “losses … and silences.”

All of which brings me to ghosts. One way of writing toward whispers and vanishings includes writing towards historical figures—known and unknown—or their ghosts, if you will. (Re)imagining a voice from the past can be an antidote to broad historical narratives, particularly when a voice was lost because it was not recognized by dominant cultural narratives. In the present moment, when we have been physically isolated from each other by a pandemic, and when the deadly effects of systemic racism and injustice are being reckoned with, the issue of whose voices are heard and whose stories are told is more important than ever.

In creating this feature, I asked poets about ghosts and archives. What whispers and vanishings are they writing towards? Are ghosts an antidote to, or a thickening of, official historical narratives? Are they a refusal of silence—or an argument for the value of silence? 

These poems are their responses. These poems hold what I would call ghosts: saints, prophets, and ancestors—biological and intellectual—and unnamed, ghostly “you’s.” In these poems, grandmothers, mothers, and future-daughters share space in the same garden. Voices emerge from the Torah, from a monastery in the middle ages, and from a cello, to offer alternative narratives. There are also great-grandfathers, first loves, a brother-husband, a speaker translating for the dead of a Palestinian refugee camp, and an entire leaden family offering comfort from the bottom of swimming pool. Places, too, haunt in these poems, including a homestead in which everyone is still alive.

And archives. These poems draw from archives as diverse as the ghosts populating them. Addressed in these pieces are the news cycle, religious cannons, family lore, the theater, dreams, and medical photographs. What emerges is the sense that an archive is a beginning, an outline, a ladder to somewhere, but never a complete record. The ghosts haunting these archives offer “data” that may not otherwise exist. 

“All language is littered with corpses,” Lena Khalaf Tuffaha writes. And we, the readers, witness the three-way seance that occurs between poet and ghost and language; we are “guests / of the aftermath,” of the past that is “both calamity and marginalia.” Ghosts offer a perspective, both human and non-, one in which we experience “the other side of emptiness,” and one from which we have a god’s-eye view of a past-woman “suturing a consolable wound,” as Jacobs writes. This alternative positionality matters. The ghosts in these poems are negotiating with the present. They ask to be noticed, they ask questions, they question what stories we are telling in the present moment and why.

From diaphanous voices come poems of profound texture and tangibility. Softness, heft, and stamina abound in these pieces. Jane Wong’s speaker caresses her “own face because it is the face of my mother and her mother and so on and so on.” Sumita Chakraborty’s speaker advises, “Sh, sh, make your voice a ghost. // Make your way through the deep.” And the family in Vi Khi Nao’s poem has an “aquatic hydraulicness—this pulling of gravity on their body and of lead not being lead” that gives weight to an otherwise slippery dream. The ghosts in these poems navigate darkness, but with a reciprocity that makes movement and life possible outside of visible channels.

Perhaps because, in the midst of a pandemic, I’ve been turning to poets like Ross Gay to remind me of connection in the midst of isolation, the overarching metaphor I take away from these poems is that of a web. Their speakers and voices remind me of an underground, under-seen mycorrhiza-like web running tangles through the pocked structure of the visible archive. To see such a web, to see our microscopic connections, requires us to consciously look for it. Similarly, to “see” literary ghosts, requires a change in perspective. A willingness to look beyond biography. 

“Language is volition / – the rising up of a body,” Tuffaha writes, and the ghosts in these poems have risen up to question us about attention and perception. If history consists of the events we know and the present-moment lens we see them through, literary ghosts can strip a culture of dangerous mono-stories—those steeped in nostalgia or the American myth of the blank slate.

As readers, as storytellers, we chose where we place our attention, or where we allow our attention to be placed for us. A literary ghost enlarges the field of our visual (and temporal and spatial) perception. They appear, sometimes to soothe, but usually to trouble the status quo. If “a museum is not an act of kindness,” as Josh English writes, then, similarly, an archive should not be mistaken for abundance. At best, it’s an excellent beginning point for a literary haunting.

Jennifer Loyd is a PhD candidate at Texas Tech University. She holds an MFA from Purdue University, and she was a 2020/2021 Stadler Fellow and an editor for West Branch, Sycamore Review, and Copper Nickel. Her poems and prose, which explore the intersection between private voice and public narratives, have appeared in The Southern Review, Prairie Schooner, Poet Lore, The Shore, Colorado Gardener, and elsewhere.

Lena Khalaf Tuffaha

Amsa Gives the Journalists a Tour of Yarmouk

You will write about us: the remnants; remarkable.
The moment suspends meaning
and requires no nameplates.
You’ve been here before, with cameras and questions,
a better signal, this time, a richer image.
Of our severed and blood-stained, stories
are fashioned. On our bones, the breaking
news cycle feeds. I know you, guests
of the aftermath, come to speak on inevitability.
What can you recite of the archive?
How many times, while we wait,
must we die?
How far back will you look to discern
if this moment is mean or variance? Who among us
will deviate from our given value?
You have arrived to survey,
and our bodies are best used
to express an average.
Let the lines of us, the laissez-passers
unfolded for inspection, lead the evening
headlines. Let the pianist play a soundtrack
of these days. None of this will draw blood.
Behind the screen, none will drown for knowing.
Let this gathering, then,
this gaggle of panorama and lament
be momentous. Let us
become your there-but-for-the-grace,
your memento mori. Let evening
fall on us, keepers of memory,

*Yarmouk (in Damascus, Syria) is a Palestinian refugee camp that has endured siege and massacres.

Beit Anya

The name of my father’s village speaks
of the misery of pilgrims unwelcome
for their poverty, a thorn
-strewn hillside to keep them
at a distance from the house
of god for fear of their disfigurement.
All language is littered with corpses
of words, the shrouds we make
for them, the sacred oils we spill
to anoint or embalm. Beit a home;
ancient breath and second
letter of ancestry. Home of unripe figs
or of suffering? Or of the tribe
who amassed enough gold
and armor to consolidate a story?
I need no dictionary
to parse the twin spirits of Anya—
that affliction and caregiving
are one vector, measured in cubits
or years of prayer occluded
from the sanctuary. In my father’s childhood,
soldiers clamored the rocks
to Lazarus’ tomb. He longed for
lamb and spiced rice instead of the bones
the wealthy uncles sent
for broth to stay ten mouths. He dreamt
and wandered the olive groves.
He went to school in the city
of seventy names. All language is volition
—the rising up of a body
thought lifeless, the summoning
of a spirit from sepulchral silence. A village
might be known for derelict light,
for the footsteps of supplicants, its dead
a transom fastening it to memory. Before his own
father died the family kept a dog, to herd cattle
and hold coyotes at the edges of the field.
Prince—my father told us the animal’s name,
a frail laugh uttered as a third transfusion raised him,
again, from the edge. A proper English name,
a protest, even our dog, awlaad el kalb,
and when the canine sank his teeth
into the soldier’s sun-burned shin, my grandfather
protected his noble beast, told the soldier who had come for blood
to take my grandfather’s life first.
All language is legend—we grow into its landscapes.
House of Misery for want, for death’s
early visits and a dearth of miracles. My father says
the soldier returned, smirking,
with a thick slab of meat that Prince could not resist.
Our derivation of meaning—the study we make
of moments—travels the empires engraved
in our palms. That a poison robbed a young boy
of his dog is both calamity and marginalia.
All language is oracular—
we are forever
burnishing the wound, readying the chasm.

*Beit Anya is one of several names for Bethany, a village neighboring Jerusalem.

Lena Khalaf Tuffaha is a poet, essayist, and translator. Her first book, Water & Salt (Red Hen Press) won the 2018 Washington State Book Award for Poetry. Her chapbook Letters from the Interior (Diode 2019), is a finalist for the 2020 Jean Pedrick Chapbook Prize.

Jane Wong


the garden in which we kiss all the beetles silver and stupid
the garden in which leaves simmer in oxtail broth and chili oil so thick it becomes a type of weather
the garden in which we kiss all slow spit and basil tongue and rosemary brow and I no longer want to be orderly
the garden in which the marrow of memory melts and hisses in a scallion sweated wok
the garden in which you never left, were never leaving, in which an imprint in fog was not a shadow shouldered in mid-rib ache
the garden in which I am a pond monstress, my mouth devouring weed-puckered water, algae caught between the ladders of my teeth
the garden in which we listen so closely, our ears grow ears
the garden in which my grandmother plucks carrots up from their leafy tails, each tuber breaking so easily she laughs down to her wrinkled, brown-dipped toes
the garden in which spiders knit a telephone, whispering the future, the future to each other
the garden in which my brother spoons a fly out of his cereal bowl, wings awash in sweet glue
the garden in which no one asks “are you sure” or “what did he ever do to deserve” or “what’s the context”
the garden in which sunflowers wave their heads, heavy with seeds we crack and whistle back and forth
the garden in which owls warm their wings with the heat we left while storytelling sideways on the porch
the garden in which my dream daughter sees her reflection in a frog-footed pond and thinks I look exactly like my mother who looks exactly like her mother and so on and so on
the garden in which desire finds itself on a carousel again, spinning and swelling with string lights like pearl onions
the garden in which we never left home, in which we never left home
the garden in which we repeat what we must, packed fractals of dahlias
the garden in which I nursed blackberry brambles back to life, for this is how bad it got
the garden in which my mother cradles me close, her jade bracelet clanging against my xylophone ribs, singing this heart I made
the garden in which a cicada sputters like a battery-operated toy under the fat paw of a cat who reminds you of someone
the garden in which I am not made to stand in a corner for years, arms strapped behind my back, legs loosening a sorrow, asking what cruelty makes silence run through me like an eel
the garden in which we lick the stink of a wound
the garden in which ladybugs pour out of a water pitcher, little rubies gulping aphids
the garden in which I peel fibrous petal after petal and find my lost vocabularies in an artichoke heart
the garden in which I caress my own face because it is the face of my mother and her mother and so on and so on
the garden in which our ghosts lie down next to us in the dusk, heavy and full of rice and caramelized onions, lips dripping with stalactites of sugar and salt
the garden in which I wrap all my loves in capes of onion skin
the garden in which we rewrite our histories, ink pouring forth our names, our names glistening a kaleidoscope of knowledge along the ancient gummy mouth of a tortoise
the garden in which I spin the algae in my teeth into a net to carry us to safety
the garden in which cabbage stews and stews into a spackle for a house we build like swiftlets, spit spun delicious, for this garden is home and we never left home
the garden in which we let grow that which grows taller than us
the garden in which I carry the soft intestines of our survival
the garden in which the spiders telephone again, spinning stay, stay
the garden in which we have whatever we want because we deserve it

Jane Wong is the author of Overpour (Action Books, 2016) and How to Not Be Afraid of Everything (Alice James, 2021). She is an Associate Professor of Creative Writing at Western Washington University.

Amanda Hodes

Maria Callas Interviews Harriet Smithson Berlioz

M : So you kept the child while Hector slept down the street?

H : Louis swings in the curtains, a drapery cradle.

M : And the marriage, his affair?

H : His mistress strolls bright red in all my dreams. He says I’m too in love with l’art dramatique.

M : What did you think of the piece he wrote for you, Symphonie Fantastique?

H : I liked the piece until the witches pulled my hair through the trumpet. I escaped into a cello. For a while, I curled inside there, watched the bow swing in front of me, slow as a pendulum.

M : But Hector made you feel alive?

H : He made me feel permanent.

M :  Artists make a habit of singing to ghosts.

H : The stagehands are always reaching through my body. Between scenes, I take my clothes off and nothing’s there. The feeling of air, the audience just steps away. Perhaps I was the ghost.

M : When did you first meet Hector?

H : While playing Juliet at the Odeon Theatre. He sent me letters and moved to the apartment across my street. Reminded myself to close the curtains. Sometimes I reminded myself not to. Have you ever stood in an empty theatre, singing?

M : Would you call it empathy?

H : I’d call it plunging your arm into the bed of a lake. My parents were both actors, but I don’t remember their faces. Artifice felt natural to me, but I learned from watching others, the way we all do.

Maria Callas Interviews Hildegard von Bingen

M : Were you scared?

H : There was never an I. There was a mouth and voice, a body and His Word. Pineal gland rubbed dry to stringed meat.

M : As a child, you were enclosed in an anchorage with one meal a day, one window and companion.

H : The thunder always clattered my body into blue: visions tailed by illness, ashen sleep with geodes of daybreak, birdsong. Those days, Jutta and I worshipped and healed, read and wept. I opened into faith from my cell, myself, mucous-wet and shining.

Forbidden from composing, I dictated. Women like me are always in translation. I slipped beneath a veil of voices. To make men listen, you disappear. To be heard, you hide.

M : What was it like founding your own monastery?

H : I opened a door into snowdrops. Everywhere, like specks of snow. Even women dressed in white, hair to their thighs. We walked into dew-grass and kept walking. Disibodenburg shrank to a diorama atop the mountain.

When they tried to stop me, I became ill. When they acquiesced, I recovered.

M : And how did the music begin?

H : I tried to swallow the Shade of Living Light. For ages, like a sword. Until the voice of God pried my mouth. Thus, music.

Amanda Hodes is a writer and sound artist. She has an MA in Creative Writing from the University of East Anglia and is currently an MFA candidate at Virginia Tech.

Josh English


I sit by the window because I’m waiting. No.
I remove my head from my shoulders and punt it
halfway across the room. Everything eventually
becomes lightning. Or maybe it’s light. The exoskeleton
breaks to reveal the insides’ soft and glowing butter.
Maybe. I need to stop consuming so much medicine
or else consume much more. I pour another glass
of wine. Silence is dizzying and should not be
confused with: clarity, calm, stoicism or flowers.
We know the earth’s imperfect orbit means
there is an ideal time for planting, for watching
the soil co-devour the seed. I sit by the window
because I’m watching, moored to the porch lights
coming on. Before sleep I say, if I am still alive
come morning, I think I’ll make pancakes. A little love letter
to myself. Then morning comes and no pancakes.
The debts I owe myself keep piling up, and me—
too proud to pay them. I sit by the window
because it’s raining, because I’m tired and I can’t sleep.
There is a tender way to watch the stars imploding,
but there is also a not-so-tender way. I have run
all the tests I know how to run and the answer
is not what we thought: The bees are not dying
from loneliness. The problem is not an absence of buds.
The problem is not our insistence on delaying
the departures; the problem is the fixtures
of our gaze. The clouds move and I move with them,
because—you know—I fancy myself a cloud. In bed
I perform falling asleep in hope that the real thing
will follow. A production to deceive the actors.
Sometimes it works. Often, though, we’re left
searching through small explosions for patterns
of debris, so we can say yes, I could have stopped
it—cracked glass sleeping in the folds of a dishrag,
a car crash, spittle flying from our tongues.
If only I’d arrived a little earlier. I think we got it
backwards: sleeping in darkness. Without eyes
nothing is obscured. But being lost inside myself
does not mean I’m dreaming. I am bewildered
by the fluidity of living. I toss the blanket
from the bed and think of thinking of darkness
as a gaping mouth whose kiss I can’t handle.
Where are you, I say, to no one in particular,
even though I know the answer: you are not here.
You are not a universe imploding into itself.
Some lessons take a lifetime to learn. Here
we are again in a place where none of us
has ever been and the faucet is running
and the air conditioner is running and the train
is leaving, though I can only board in my mind.
I keep having the same dream. I’m in an elevator
and the buttons are all pictures of star systems.
Back home, I remember the onion I cut open
but forgot to put away, and I wonder if the ants
found it, assuming ants even like onions. Usually
I’d keep this between myself and the moon,
but the moon is growing closer so I suppose
I’ll just say it: I have little faith in language.
I spent so many hours annunciating the possibilities
of an empty room, only to walk in and wish the bed
already set up, the curtains already their chosen color.
I cup my ear against a star and startle back: here,
it says, take this bouquet of broken windows, see
what you can do with its prism of light.
See what you can do with the walls’ darkening
smudges appearing as texts from a language
you can’t read. Even patience is just obsession
drawn out over ages, and given the depth
of the body, I can wait out this blizzard of appetites.
I’m learning to know less about the world. I’m still
learning how little I can know. As a child, when given
those draw-by-numbers, connect-the-dots pictures,
instead of lines, I always just drew more dots.
I don’t know whether to be astonished by all of this
[gestures wildly] or whether to turn the television on
again. Some things we understand so quickly
the mind hasn’t time to process not understanding
them. Even chaos can’t disassemble everything.
I mean, my jacket is still where I left it, draped
over a pile of books on the floor. I understand
now that a museum is not an act of kindness.
I have traveled and it only took to touch the universe
to realize on the other side of emptiness is a homestead
where you and I and everything in between is living.

Josh English is a PhD student in Literature and Creative Writing at the University of Houston where he is an Inprint C. Glenn Cambor Fellow. His work appears in Crazyhorse, Cutbank, Denver Quarterly, Third Coast, Prelude, and elsewhere.

Vi Khi Nao


I wrote you, “I desire you very much.” & then sleep took over. A boat swims down the river of my psyche. In my dream, you are reclining on a bed. The swimming pool has been tucked away underneath the room like a sock drawer from a chest cabinet. You are teaching me how to use the internet. How to use texting three-dimensionally. I move the Instagram tiles around. I fear the DM messages would be vulnerable to your gaze. I trust you. You are so tender, not berating me when I fail to move the tiles back to their proper home. I lay next to you. And, you tell me that this swimming pool (the foundation of the home is a swimming pool) is filled with synchronicity. My entire family have arrived early. They have taken a short swim. The water is made of dark matter: of lead and water. When they swim, their bodies sink down, but they do not drown. They even have the opportunity to make a big splash. The lead keeps them down. It is this aquatic hydraulicness—this pulling of gravity on their body and of lead not being lead. But the swimming pool is very dark, like enigma dark. But since no one drowns, it can not be that dark. I recline next to you. We are being very affectionate. My whole body caressing yours. You are affectionate. Touching me left and right. The weight of sleep pulls me back into the center of my desire for you. It pulls me to you and I feel deeply loved. Like I have not been here before. Like I have not been tailgating the moon. My gaze is here. My entire family is here. And, then there is you. When I wake, the light is low. All day, the sky is desolate of sun. Big grey clouds stroll back and forth like a mother in a baby stroller. The clouds keep on wailing, like a child not being fed. But no tears fall. The clouds—they are large blankets of fog. Yet, the sky refuses to weep and everything dies quickly. Even the palm trees do not know what to make of the lugubrious clouds that won’t mourn and lament. Meanwhile my cunt is on a verge of transformation. My cunt has become a small plastic sleeve the shape and size of an eye and it’s filled with water and desire and every second, water floats above it, exciting it, and it drifts a glass of water overflowing with water. There is so much buoyancy on my cunt. Water slips, flows, glides, sails across my clitoris like it’s a summer day on a sailboat. Except that sailboat is my desire. I let the buoy of my desire undulate on my body. Each time I breathe, my whole body is wrecked from ardor. The verb “excipere” is from Latin: it means ‘taken out.’ I think: do I want my desire to excipere or to escape? When I submerge beneath my dream, my phone is next to me, sitting on my pillow like a cat that is sipping my breath from a straw made out of four ingredients: sleep deprivation, sleep intoxication, lucidity weakness, and some type of postmodern grogginess, where a dream moves like reality but wears a garment made from opium. I have woken up from a reality that has left me. I am dazed, but not confused. The glass of water inside my body is full to the brim. Each time I walk, the water overflows. Each time I walk, I drip with fierce ardor and assiduity.

Vi Khi Nao’s work includes poetry, fiction, film, play, and cross-genre collaboration. Her poetry collection, A Bell Curve Is A Pregnant Straight Line, and her short stories collection, The Vegas Dilemma, are forthcoming from 11:11 in 2021.

Ginger Ko


My birth sluiced another channel
for family secrets.
I have been granted a selection to maintain.
In the hatchery are unvarying bubble clusters
with seeds in the centers.
We leave them alone
or ingest them quickly.
Only some can bear
to wear the teeming bunches on our skin.
This was before we could hear the rattling
of plastic caps in bird bellies
when they come to roost on the electric wires.
There is the one about my grandmother
pushing my second aunt out the front door
with a bathing suit.
When my aunt turned up drowned
it was the same as if
my grandmother had held her daughter
underwater with her own hands.
There is the one about my great-grandfather
hanging himself
asking a retainer to give his feet a hard pull
when his neck dropped with the noose around it.
The retainer would have been considered loyal
or else servile from lack of imagination
but it was the retainer who heard
my great-grandfather call out the name
of his first love—a woman not his wife
but a figment containing the ashes
of my great-grandfather’s frightened
or petty or punishing heart—
someone who gave him the excuse
to withhold himself from his family
up until the moment of his death.
One of the original channels
involved a young girl born in the west
found abandoned at a node of the Silk Road.
My maternal grandfather’s family took her in
she was raised as a bride for their son.
She grew up and became what
she was supposed to become
but how she felt about her brother-husband
and her children no longer remains.
These secrets hold no romance for me.
They continue on
the whole world their grave hole
of protracted cadaverine—their body
their coverings
the accessories to their life.
Only those who believe animals
would cry in distress if there were no others
to understand them
they know this because they believe
the same of themselves.
Yet I am the one who acts.
Me is who I am.
You are both actor and self at once
a complete other known only to me
as I know you
as no one else can know you
which is yourself
as known by me and no other.
You are not a personal symbol.
You are not a personal symbol.
You are not my symbol.
You are not my symbol.
You are not mine.
You are not me.

Ginger Ko is an Assistant Professor at Sam Houston State University’s MFA program in Creative Writing, Editing, and Publishing. She is the author of Motherlover (Bloof Books) and Inherit (Sidebrow), as well as several chapbooks.

Jessica Jacobs

Covenant Between the Pieces

View this poem.

How Many More

Though there is nothing explicit written of them in the Torah, Midrash intimates that along with each of Jacob’s sons—the twelve men who went on to lead the Twelve Tribes of Israel—a twin sister was born.

Like a Griffin born from a lion
and an eagle, like the Leviathan coiling
the world’s watery root, the daughters
of Jacob: actual creatures or just bad
translations? Or were they like Aurochs—real
animals now mythic, hunted into extinction?
While the men and their mothers walked travel-worn
paths, their twins murmured along animal runs
rutted by hoof and claw, piled
with scat. Like the bars
of a cell, they white-knuckled the lines
they were hidden behind: so many women
left uncounted, unnamed. And how many more
made extinct by men’s hungers? Yet they went on
carrying babies, comforting brothers and husbands,
clean laundry snapping like flags
in the breeze, baring the standard
of their whispered nation. Hazy figures at the edge
of dreams, if only they’d taken their father’s story
of wrestling the angel until dawn
as their own, had taken their men
in a grappler’s embrace, twining
around each like a garrote, demanding the power
that comes with being seen, demanding the names
not given, the birthrights denied.
They were the leaders of the true lost tribes.

Another Kind

When Jacob’s sons returned from Egypt, they asked Serah, daughter of Asher, known for her wisdom and skill with a harp, to gently relay the news to their father that his son Joseph was not dead. Upon hearing it, Jacob blessed her, saying, “The mouth that told me Joseph is alive will never taste death.”
—Sefer HaYashar, The Book of the Righteous

Her grandfather stood in prayer, extolling, cajoling,
thumping his chest with his fist as though to break
a breach for God. Serah, in his shadow, swayed
as he swayed, her fingers like breeze on her harp strings,
her song just another layer of light. Again and again, she
swayed and breathed, As the sun, as the wind, your son
Joseph lives, her voice a fig tree unfurling its leaves, a
prickly pear filling with rain. Together, they were
a bucket at the bottom of a well, her words
cleaving to his until they twined up like rope, binding them
to whatever might wind the winch, might bring forth
water. Serah, the Torah’s first poet. Serah, undying,
evident in every generation that followed: who
was a slave in Egypt, the first to know Moses
as a true prophet; Serah, who wandered the wilderness
as the cloth that shielded the Tabernacle, the serah ha-odef,
the overlapping excess, the dayenu promise that though
just enough would have been sufficient, there will always be
a little more; Serah, who entered the Promised Land, overlapping
one age with the next. Her voice tasted death
only in others; Serah, the witness, repository
for her people’s stories.
And who is she now? What healer, what bridge,
what shelter, what builder, what writer
as prophet? No husband, no children, her poems
were her progeny. Serah, selah. Matriarch of my line.

Jessica Jacobs is the author of Take Me with You, Wherever You’re Going (Four Way Books), winner of the Devil’s Kitchen and Goldie Awards, and Pelvis with Distance (White Pine Press), a biography-in-poems of Georgia O’Keeffe.

Sumita Chakraborty

Image 002

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Sumita Chakraborty is a poet, essayist, and scholar. Her debut poetry collection, Arrow, was released in September 2020 from Alice James Books in the U.S. and Carcanet Press in the U.K.