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27 May 2022

Ghost Talker Poem by Dorsía Smith Silva

Wasafiri is proud to publish the shortlisted works of the 2021 Queen Mary Wasafiri New Writing Prize. These poems, essays, and short stories detail a range of emotions and experiences, produced by skilled new writers from all over the globe. In this poem, Dorsía Smith Silva delivers an elegy to childhood, and a chilling, lyrical tribute to the vast number of missing Black girls who are never found. The 2022 Queen Mary Wasafiri New Writing Prize is open until 30 June. You can enter the prize and read more about it here.
& for the black girlsthat go missing from newspaper headlines &spotlight 5 pm news. What happened to them? Kick the can over. See if the bones glint in the slips of sunshine. Press your ears against the grass. Listen to what bleeds. My mother in her lovely tongue. Those girls are probably with friends. Hanging out in the basement. Wearing cigarette pants. Cigarette pants were fashionable once.  They will turn up. Like loose change sidelined under sofa cushions. Overdue books sandwiched in sweaters. Favourite hairpins gagged by vents.  Don’t fret. Fret is a funny word for a young child. Sounds like forget. Don’t forget. I won’t.About the missing black girls.Probably already dead. In a ditch. Or field somewhere.  I’m not supposed to think about death. Passing away. Kicked the bucket. 6 feet under. Meeting our maker. Which is what my teacher said. The class guinea pig had stopped moving. Mrs Hayes poked its feet. & then shoved it into a shoebox. Said that we could bury it across the tire swing. In the back of the school yard. The dirt was ordinary. Brown. Hard.   Eat your snack, said my mother.Twinkies. From 7-11. Maybe Wawa. Nothing from SuperFresh or Pathmark. White filling. Creamy like white fungus. Oozing like zit puss. Besmirching golden cake.   The news says nothing about black girls that go missing. Not even a speck in someone’s unread newspaper. Silence is when we inherit ghosts. I see them taking victory laps every night. 
Image of author Dorsía Smith Silva is a Pushcart Prize nominee, Best of the Net nominee, Cave Cavem Poetry Prize Semifinalist, Obsidian Fellow, and Full Professor of English at the University of Puerto Rico, Río Piedras. Her poetry is forthcoming in Crazyhorse, The Offing, The Minnesota Review, Poetry Northwest, and elsewhere. She has attended the Bread Loaf Environmental Writers’ Workshop, Bread Loaf Writers’ Workshop, and the Kenyon Review Writers’ Workshop. She has a PhD in Caribbean Literature and posts at @DSmithSilva.        Photo by Quinn Burman on Unsplash  
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