No one asked for the tower

the tower was simply there—

I fear entering that castle.

I fear I have already entered it.

All aside, who said

this way, this snow?

Our adaptability to harshness,

our certain slant of light.

I fear entering that city.

I fear I have already entered it.

because I asked

because I sought it out

all this weird

weather we are


here now

you then

I woke up one morning carrying

you in my brain, I think

I can feel your muscles moving, you

denied the possibility, what I meant

was something foundational

about all that surface area coiled

up and all that sorrow

merely wind

I give you

my hands

to cut off

                                                            how carefully I edit

I grow my hair

I mutilate my feet

I give up my voice

                                    my body


                                                            then air

And what to do with a year of bad weather

Because my heart is many

small stones stitched

together here

is a knife won’t you

carve it out

Dear ghost

I am your brother

I buried you and your bones

began to sing, I carved

an instrument of your voice.

The body heals

itself whether

its ghosts are within

or without.

Your haunting

unmoors me

the world toxic

and yet we still move in it

our city wrapped

in violent dust.

Your haunting

tunnels through to me

you handed me the myth now

let me take it

all of my ghosts keep

me awake.

Emily Barton Altman is the author of two chapbooks, “Bathymetry” (Present Tense Pamphlets, 2016), and “Alice Hangs Her Map” (dancing girl press, 2019). Recent poems are forthcoming or appear in Bone BouquetDreginaldGigantic SequinsThe Iowa Review Online, and elsewhere. She is a recipient of a Poets & Writers Amy Award and received her MFA from New York University. She is currently pursuing a PhD in English and Creative Writing at the University of Denver. // @embarton

Banner image by Olivia Cronk