Shivani Mehta


The ghost children are asleep on the landing again, the outlines of their overlapped bodies as blurry as watercolors. They come and go as they please. I always know they are back when the lights flicker once, twice, during dinner. We stop eating, forks suspended halfway to our mouths. Silence is a room in our house. More than anything, the ghost children want to be real. They play hide and seek like living children. Sometimes in the evenings, they rest their heads on my shoulder, deflating balloons coming back to earth. At night lying in bed, we hear words like canticle, saints, resurrection spoken in childish murmurs. The ghost children know they don’t belong here, they are the children we didn’t have. Forgive our trespass they whisper and are gone.


Shivani Mehta was born in Mumbai and raised in Singapore. Her first book of poetry, a collection of prose poems, is out from Press 53. Her work has appeared in numerous journals including the North American Review, Hotel Amerika,Midwest Quarterly Review, among others. Mehta is a (recovering) attorney, she lives in Los Angeles with her husband and 4­year­old twins.