ghost in girl costume

Manuela Williams, University of Nevada, Las Vegas


she is allowed
to cut two eyes out of a pale sheet
and slip it over her solid body, as if there is nothing
in being substantial, of having skin to pinch

she is allowed to wander
musty corridors at night making “ooooo” sounds
and everyone will be terrified at first
but then giggle because, silly, spirits aren’t real

but the minute I try to be something other than
a slinking pastel ectoplasm, suddenly, I’m a jerk
my sad songs are ear sores and to brush an icy
tendril across a blood-warmed cheek, unimaginable

I tried, a long time ago, the most odd shade
of murder red lipstick
but when I pressed the color to my lips,
my non-flesh swallowed it whole

for eight years I existed with random
bits of makeup floating around in my body:
the strange lipstick, a clumpy mascara wand,
and a whole palette of plum eyeshadow

I try to be a little more than
what I am on a daily basis: irrelevant fog
tapping on a girl’s windshield or dust
living under a sagging bed

I like to think, one year, one century
I will walk into a trendy craft store and
use all my collected coupons to buy pretty felt
and hair-colored yarn

I will make myself a costume
and then I, too, will make “ooooo” sounds
and everyone will wonder who the ghost girl is
and where they can get one and how they can be one

Manuela Williams is a Vegas native who is currently working on her English degree at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. She was awarded the Lance and Elena Calvert Award for her research on Margaret Atwood and the romantic love plot in Western literature. Her work has appeared in 300 Days of Sun, Sun & Sandstone, and The Opiate Magazine.