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Poem: Phantom Itch 

Since the night fanned the air into a dark

cool enough to never have to reach

for the other side of the pillow,

I propped my screenless window open

& let it inside.

When I woke, it was 3 in the morning & still dark

& the mosquitoes had covered me

in the red scratch of their feasting.

Sometimes, the word I want

slips away into a nothing full of stars.

I sat on the edge of my bed & itched & itched.

The tree outside shook a leaf onto my floor.

When I am done wanting, will I know?

There was that night I couldn't sleep

next to you, & you might've woke

at some odd hour to find me at my desk,

bent over words that no longer echo.

Do you remember everything? Does it

haunt you like humidity? Follow

me back & back. To the soft sound

kissing off your lips. Can you

rub my back, you said. Last night

I scratched & itched & scratched.

There were places I could not reach.

You know them. Those bits of muscle

rising up between the bones beside my spine.

Where the blood is. Sometimes

I feel you feeling them. I slap

to make the phantom go away. It

does not. You

do not. I

do not want you to. You

are still here.

  • A poem by Devin Kelly


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