The Wardrobe’s Best Dressed: Dearest Water by Nancy Takacs

This selection, chosen by guest editor Shlagha Borah, is from Dearest Water by Nancy Takacs, released by Mayapple Press in 2021.

Spell to Banish a Ghost

At night I hear Anna
snipping toenails
in my wicker chair,
smell her cologne,

Once my favorite aunt,
she whispered to me
with venom
when I was twenty
she never liked me
because I was born
last in our family
and took her place.

She died alone
last October
with a brain tumor.

She eyes me in sink water
from my mother’s dishes,
her blue face in their lilies,
her earrings like onions.

She cocks her head,
skinny robin on my side-mirror,
then craps on my door handle.

So tonight on this quarter moon,
I make a fire.
I find my red frying pan,
fill it with lavender oil
and wait till it hisses.

I hold my only picture of her,
write her name on the back of it,
and kiss it three times.

Nancy Takacs’s poetry awards include The Juniper Prize, the 2018 and 2016 15 Bytes Book Award for Poetry, Weber’s Sherwin W. Howard Award, a 2020 Pushcart Prize, and a runner-up for the Missouri Review Editor’s Prize. She is the author of three other books of poetry and four chapbooks. Nancy lives most of the year in the high-desert town of Wellington, Utah, and spends time in Bayfield, Wisconsin, near the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore, in a small cabin with her husband, poet Jan Minich. Their son Ian Minich is a photographer in Salt Lake City. Nancy is the inaugural Poet Laureate of Utah’s art hub: Helper City.

Shlagha Borah (she/her) is a poet from Assam, India. Her work appears in Salamander, Nashville Review, Identity Theory, Longleaf Review, Variant Literature, Rogue Agent, and elsewhere. She is pursuing an MFA in Poetry at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, and is an Associate Poetry Editor at Grist. She has received support for her work from Brooklyn Poets and Sundress Academy for the Arts. She is the co-founder of Pink Freud, a student-led collective working towards making mental health accessible in India.


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