Leila Chatti

February Letter to Ghost Mother

Ghost mother, today I ate sour cherries on toast
and the man cried three times. What is
unfeeling, what is monstrous

as applied to me? Because I cared
for them, I soaked my blouses in the tub. I sat in
the sun assessing my insignificant self

-inflicted wounds. You
, he says, and pick—and I peel off
another scab in the next room.

What of this interests you—is it the parts
of you you recognize,
or is it my being alive?

Winter’s resumed and I’m sorry
to report I’m like the trees—
reduced. Through the branches, the sky

flattened, drained of blue.

Leila Chatti is a Tunisian-American poet and author of the chapbooks Ebb (Akashic Books, 2018) and Tunsiya/Amrikiya, the 2017 Editors' Selection from Bull City Press. She is the recipient of scholarships from the Tin House Writers’ Workshop, The Frost Place, and the Key West Literary Seminar, grants from the Barbara Deming Memorial Fund and the Helene Wurlitzer Foundation, and fellowships from the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown, the Wisconsin Institute for Creative Writing, and Cleveland State University, where she is the inaugural Anisfield-Wolf Fellow in Publishing and Writing. Her poems have received awards from Ploughshares' Emerging Writer's Contest, Narrative's 30 Below Contest, the Gregory O’Donoghue International Poetry Prize, and the Academy of American Poets. She is the Consulting Poetry Editor for the Raleigh Review and her work appears in Ploughshares, Tin House, American Poetry Review, Virginia Quarterly Review, Kenyon Review Online, and elsewhere.