Kelli Russell Agodon

When You Are a Ghost, I’ll Also Love Your Shadow

Mostly life is life and kitchens are filled
with lovers who don’t put their cups
in the sink. Mostly life is people who don’t
believe they’ll be a corpse or those
who compose poetry while drunk and in love
with loss. These are the ones who flourish,
these are the mice in the cookies who nibble
into the dawn. Mostly life is a mask
of contentment and a tie of jasmine
reaching down into pleasure. Forgive
the thunder and the man who left zucchini
in your unlocked car, forgive the oysters
without a pearl and all the years we wasted
being young. We are numb, but trying,
and when your bent body is brightened
by the refrigerator light, I hear myself whisper
to dark, to the mice we cannot catch, please
forgive me
, and kindly place your mug into the sink.


Kelli Russell Agodon is the cofounder of Two Sylvias Press where she works as an editor and book cover designer. Her most recent book, Hourglass Museum, was a finalist for the Washington State Book Awards and shortlisted for the Julie Suk Poetry Prize. Her second book, Letters from the Emily Dickinson Room was the winner of the Foreword Indies Book of the Year for poetry and was also a finalist for the Washington State Book Awards. Her work has been featured on NPR, ABC News and appeared in magazines and journals like The Atlantic, Harvard Review, APR, The Rumpus, Prairie Schooner, the Academy of American Poets Poem-a-Day and O, The Oprah Magazine. She also coauthored The Daily Poet: Day-By-Day Prompts for Your Writing Practice, with poet Martha Silano. She lives in a sleepy seaside town in Washington State where she is an avid paddleboarder.