The Feminine Urge to be a Ghost Haunting a Marshy Landscape

Like the heron I hunker in the tall reeds, my past lives bunched over my shoulder like a worn blue petticoat.

Writing by Featured Writer Shilo Niziolek
Art by Featured Artist Erica Peebus

The Feminine Urge to be a Ghost Haunting a Marshy Landscape

Like the heron I hunker

in the tall reeds.

My past lives bunched 

over my shoulder like

a worn blue petticoat

And still;

you do not see me.

You only feel the whisper

behind you, the shadow

of my hips.

A glimpse of me round 

the bend of the river.

But when you turn,

only cattails in the wind

only percussion.

I’m the silence that

keeps you up at night.

When you step into pluff mud,

hushed and barely breathing—

still I do not show myself—

I am only and everything

that haunts you.

My image always just

in the corner of your eye,

sleep or sand or pollen collected.

If I have to die a thousand times,

I’ll do it, I’ll die a thousand more. 

I am more bird than woman

anymore anyways, hollow

bones, hollow ghost, all flight. 

And when you turn your back,

a splash in the water as dusk descends.

A sound remarkably like your name

but where you search, only

smoke and air surround you.

Only the heron stalking.

Strange creature with hazel eyes.

About the Author

Shilo Niziolek’s (she/her) memoir, FEVER, is out from Querencia Press. Her chapbook, A Thousand Winters In Me, is out from Gasher Press. I Am Not An Erosion: Poems Against Decay, a micro chapbook of collage poetry was part of Ghost City Press’s online summer series 2022. Her work has appeared in Pork Belly Press, Buckman Journal, Juked, The Blood Pudding, Entropy, Oregon Humanities, HerStry, among others, and is forthcoming in West Trade Review, Phoebe Journal, Crab Creek Review, Wishbone Words, Sunday Mornings at the River and Pumpernickel House.  Shilo holds an MFA from New England College and is Associate Faculty at Clackamas Community College. She is the co-founder and editor of Scavengers.

About the Artist

Erica Peebus (b.1982) recently moved to Fort Wayne, Indiana from Portland, Oregon where she received her BFA with an emphasis in painting in 2013 from the Pacific Northwest College of Art. Erica’s acrylic paintings can be described as both dark and whimsical. Employing a strong illustrative quality, she mixes realism with graphic details. Her works often represent plants, animals, bones, and the human figure exposing her fascination with life and death as well as her love for the natural and super natural world. Her work is heavily influenced by religious symbolism, renaissance paintings, mythology, folklore, and surrealism.

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