Ubume by Amanda Auchter

A mother ghost who died in childbirth or died leaving young children behind.
This yūrei returns to care for her children, often bringing them sweets.


I watch you thumb your worries 
into your mouth, grind teeth, 

fist against cheek. What sweet
sugars I leave behind: chocolate

madeleines in patent shoes,
a dollop of cream over each 

eyelid. Washed milk bottles
and paper dolls. I coast

the nightfall back to you,
hold your hand, kiss each 

fingernail, count out gumdrops,
your eyelashes. You 

never wake, and in these hours
I turn my sorrow into marzipan

ponies, oat cookies
under your pillows. Oh children,

my face you will not remember, each
little kiss vacuumed and swept

away. How I now weep into 
the carpet of moonlight, spell out 

my name with all my broken crumbs.

Amanda Auchter is the author of The Wishing Tomb, winner of the 2013 PEN Center USA Literary Award for Poetry and the 2012 Perugia Press Book Award, and The Glass Crib, winner of the 2010 Zone 3 Press First Book Award for Poetry. Her recent work has appeared or is forthcoming at HuffPo, CNN, Alaska Quarterly Review, Shenandoah, The Massachusetts Review, and the Academy of American Poets Poem-a-Day project, among others. She holds an MFA in Creative Writing from Bennington College and is a regular book reviews contributor at Rhino and Indianapolis Review. Follow her on Instagram and Twitter: @ALAuchter.