future ghosts

never will i ever be a mother.

i am much too afraid of myself to
want to bring a new stronger
iteration into the world—a more
successful strain that might prevail
where i was erased.

besides the way the trend lies now
my daughter will be born with a
caul and a birthmark in the shape
of a scythe and how selfish of me to
destine a child to a life of prophecy
and later, foretold pain. a daughter, rejoice!
for she will be wise and the world
will punish her for it.

no, any child of mine will remain
a blessed invisible,
a figment of my oil spill mind,
a dark possibility on my therapist’s couch—
could i ever? No, dear, no.

a figment, a haunting:
i’m here with my daughter
yes she’s here, on the swing set.
you see her in the forward shadows
there? you don’t see?
she has my eyes and bent wings
and in hope i gave her also
a mouth full of teeth sharpened
to bright iron points.

Emily Gustafson is a graduate of Macalester College in St. Paul, Minnesota, and has a dual degree in English and Media & Cultural Studies with a minor in Hispanic Studies. She is also an actor, playwright, and nonprofit arts professional living and working in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

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