Issue Nine:
Phantom habits

By Blakeley Bartee

By then, salsa and sweets ran
bland, all sensations—prick, spice,
chill, screech—numbed. I twisted
the blinds in the late afternoon.
Light was a confrontation.

I held a crumpled button-down shirt
stained with deodorant to my nose,
took in its dust, its sweat. A dry,
quiet apartment of dirty dishes.
Unreturned laundry in the closet.

The sturdy floor with its tough-woven carpet
made the pews, the clump of old-sweat clothes
made the corpse in the closet-coffin. I,
unwashed in pajamas, made the mourner.
Nightfall marked the burial.

The funerary rites for the living:
1. Stark linen candles, ice water
2. Relics in a shadowed bedroom corner
3. Repetition: visitation, funeral, burial
4. Soup, chicken noodle, going cold.

To grieve for someone still drinking
with friends in the cold winter
is to mourn the still-burning wildfire.
But I melted into the stained shirts,
immersed in phantom comfort.


About the Contributor

Blakeley Bartee is a senior Writing and Linguistics major at Georgia Southern University, where she is the winner of the 2018 Ally Harbuck Award for creative writing and the Editor-in-Chief of her school’s student magazine, The George-Anne Reflector Magazine.


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