When the Neighbors Get Evicted



A ghost moves in, boards up all the windows.
She lets no one inside except for me. She offers me water
and when she opens her mouth to drink,
a light in her throat shines out


like a moon-ray. A wound breathes in the side of her head
where the bullet hit. The scars I had while living are gone,
she says. Only this remains, the one that killed me.

A sound emanates from her wound,


a faint screech like the music of a novice violin player.
She says she’ll never leave this place. She braids my hair,
but I can’t braid hers. She says the reason she died at thirty
was her inability to tell a lie. Is it possible


to pinpoint the moment you fall in love?
I wonder if love is just envy, sometimes. The closest thing to light
in my own throat is the shine of saliva. And that only shows
when the light of her throat illuminates mine.


We can’t have sex or marry, but she moves in with me,
into my rooms and my mind. I always thought the mind
was a room, a cave with windows. She holds my head in her hands,
braids my hair, braids the curtains of my mind-windows,


pushes them aside so the light in her throat
can shine through.

Valentine’s Day at the Psych Ward



I’m late again for visiting hour and they check my purse
for sharps and cords. You’re calm, pumped full
of stabilizers and the quiet you need to heal. You’ve won
a stuffed bear at Bingo.


Other patients smile at me like
always, because they love me like you do, or rather you
love me like they do—like you’d love an old cartoon


or a Christmas song. I want you to love
me like a wolf loves a pretty deer’s
thigh, with teeth, warm blood


in red snow. While you squeeze the bear
I try to remember a time when you did this.
I put on the lipstick I carry in my purse, and I kiss


the bear’s forehead at hour’s end.
I do not kiss you. You don’t seem to notice.
I go out into the snow, call to the wolves.

Caitlin Vance is a writer from the Pacific Northwest. Her poetry and fiction has appeared or is forthcoming in Tin House, The Southern Review, ZYZZYVA, New Ohio Review, The Literary Review, NightBlock, Birdfeast, and other places. She recently received her MFA from Syracuse University, and is a PhD student in the English/Creative Writing department at the University of Louisiana.