Her Body and Other Parties

after Carmen Maria Machado/Ocean Vuong


By Elaine Mei

Art by Sophie Williams


My daughter will know ghosts are real before I tell her so. She’ll know them by name as traditions, somatic inheritances that climb like kudzu down stones on the shoreline of Galveston Beach, where I grew into myself, collecting trinkets to remind us our spirits will slip out of our bodies to make love, or make violence, or perform the dance so well as to internalize every step. Even now, my mother could dance much better than I can. My anxious heart, eager to please, dying to slip out of myself for that which makes me feel like a child buying something with my own money for the first time. Will my daughter understand that violence is an apparition and does not need to shed blood to leave a scar? The first thing I ever asked for myself was a knife my mother taught me to wield in the kitchen. My daughter, even the Ocean knows the body is a blade that sharpens by cutting.