The Ghost Wife by Esther Lin

Winner of the 2017 PSA Chapbook Fellowship

The Ghost Wife
by Esther Lin, selected and introduced by Patrick Rosal.

Edition: 500 copies of the winning books were printed by the Prolific Group and designed by Gabriele Wilson, with covers by Kitty McCall.


And Lin does not just offer us “a story.” Lin ultimately refutes rhetoric, with the sensual, the bodily, the concrete.

—Patrick Rosal


Who can resist Anna Netrebko in red jacquard, 
bird-of-paradise on a bone-plain stage singing,
Follie! Follie!

Her beauty like a tightened bow,
as Yeats wrote in 1910, poems my mother read
at the suggestion of her boyfriend, who

was no Paris, though she was a Helen of sorts:
married but swept off to another house,
where firelike she consumed Yeats and Tolstoy

and, I assume, fancied herself a courtesan
possessing a beauty dangerous indeed;
but that Christmas we had her,

and while the opera played in our rag-rug apartment,
by her shining eyes and yelps of approval
I determined my mother longed to be

what she already was,
and I’m scratching for simpler speech,
to uncover the single word or phrase that names,

indicts, and forgives in a breath;
unearth the right myth to tell me
what is not and is therefore bearable.

All rights reserved. Reprinted with the permission of the author.

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