by Amanda Martin

CC0 Public Domain


I’m perched in the shadows, darkness is my home
Harshness is the tone that world takes
When they juxtapose my role
With those who decompose
The humans who complain
About my presence near the expired
Are the ones who only desire to
Remember the dead
When they’re huddled around
A hole in the ground where
The souls of loved ones
Will never be found

My thing is Harvesting
There’s no consuming souls
No leeching of life
I bring beauty into the night
The lights in the sky you strain to see
Thanks to a city that never sleeps
Are because of me
It’s not my fault you waited to care
Until your person was no longer there

Starlight is a drug to me
A resource just out of reach
A privilege restricted by a scorned lover
Who has long since forgotten the sound of my voice
So I’m forced into the creation
Of delicate constellations
Forged from the power of souls
That serves two goals
The dead’s and mine—
I hope they let this one go this time

Her soul is ripe and despite the pleas
And gripes of the family
There is no God in sight
No, there is only me tonight

The room is sterile
White walls, white tile, white sheets
The hollow air incessantly repeats
The steady mechanical beeps
Of a machine that is stronger
Than the patient’s heartbeats

There she lay, five days from seventy-five
One side of her head shaved from
When the brave woman gave the okay
To stave off the cancer
That rattled her relatives to the core

Then she rises, translucent, unaware of her demise
Her movement’s unsteady but she seems ready
For what lies ahead
There’s a thread suspended from wall to wall
Intended to guide, as per protocol
Laced with magic, only the deceased can see
One step. Another. Then three.
Now she appears just shy of sixty
The years melted off, pooled on the floor
A peachy drip following her to the door

Salt and pepper hair, more grey than not
Three more steps and she’s in a different spot.
Now she’s back to forty
The way she was when she watched
Her son walk across the stage
A high school grad
With siblings and a mom, no dad
Then he’s off to wage a war
Against minimum wage

A few more steps, she’s half across the room.
Her hair’s long and strong
A moderate brown
The breaths she takes don’t make a sound.
Down to only twenty-two
When her first born
Was barely delivered from the womb.
A final reason to make her escape
To write the constant abuse out of her fate

Her final steps lead her to the edge
Of my shadowed corner
Shedding down to a soul’s last defense
It’s skeletal armor
I reach out, put my hand on her shoulder
Her bones crack into splinters
Held together like shimmers
In a diamond’s facade
She radiates light
Her core growing bolder
Till I can’t hold her any longer
And I let her go into the night sky
To build her own castle of Versailles
To watch down upon her lineage
From her side of the bridge

And I retreat into my corner
To come down from my high
Until the next soul
Can be cast into the sky



Amanda Martin is a poet and writer living in North Carolina. She spends much of her free time reading, watching TV, and writing (or at least attempting to). In December, she will graduate with a BA in English with a Concentration in Creative Writing.

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