ghost story crafted for a girl-child | The New Engagement

ghost story crafted for a girl-child

By Samantha DeFlitch
Ghost Story Crafted for a Girl Child story art

she crouches on the carpet

cowboy woody in hand, broken,

with an unending loop:


somebody’s poisoned the water hole!

somebody’s poisoned the water hole!


sunoco logistics, for one.

they scorched the earth

and burned the water,

left us stinking of gas-


somebody’s poisoned the water hole!


dusted with ash.

down the susquehanna,

55,000 gallons

and a settlement.

what will we grind to make the bread?


somebody’s poisoned the water hole!


and once we’ve

burned, boiled, dumped

it all away,

where will she live?

shred the contract-

but already,

the children are watching.


there’s a snake in my boot.




When it is Finished –


when you have burned

the final brown leaf

and watched the geese

fleeing clear, cold dusk,


when the rivers are frozen

with their dormant frogs

and pines the only life

poking through the grey,


when your stomach is half-filled

with hard squash and pickled corn,

when the hatchet snaps in half,

silent across frosty fields,

and the mornings are dark when

you clear paths for the children,


when the hard freeze

snaps the potato shoots,

when the dog is old and sick,

with a growth on her eye,

and cannot rush foxes

from the chicken coop,


when the last of the blackberry wine

has been drunk, when the milk cow

stops giving and the frost kills off

the cabbage in the cold frame -

how, then, will you remember

the long days, dandelions

and the harvest, a summer

bathed in strawberries?




Crown the Moose


A northwest wind judges some

headwall impasible, shoots up the veiny

valley of the ravine, and follows

the bloodline to a ridge


whose spine blushes with an alpenglow,

creaks under September ice. The

jawline is cut stone and skeletons,

skin pale and ash across the tundra.


She shouldn’t be here, this

far into the alpine zone, crunching

lily-white mats of diapensia and

twisted krumholtz underhoof.


Onward, while overhead the northwest

wind howls with voice like tempered

steel, she wanders, the unhurried steps

a fermentation of autumnal dormancy.


Charcoal eyes water, stinging,

blink languidly and seek out the

ravine, the warmer bloodline

to a thrumming, golden valley,


where Floridian visitors speed

along the Kancamagus, dart

beneath blood-red trees, snap

photographs six thousand feet below


the ridgeline, where she drifts, following

the northern tundra under wine-soaked skies,

dropping down the Ammonoosuc

where once, she was crowned.  




Samantha DeFlitch is an MFA candidate and teaching assistant at the University of New Hampshire, and graduate of the College of William and Mary with degrees in English Literature and Religious Studies. Originally from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Samantha writes to address issues of environmental justice in an intersectional context. Her work is forthcoming in Appalachian Heritage.

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