The Ghost of Sigma Chi

They say I was a Chi O girl
or a 1950s haze-gone-wrong,
an OD or a suicide
and there was one sweetheart
who swore up and down
that I was her aunt,
slaughtered by Ted Bundy
in the summer of ’76.

I polish off the empties
and give the freshman
a good and healthy scare;
I am neither loud nor malicious,
but you may see me
as the brothers often do,
a vision roaming
these Georgian halls
casting about the gloom.

A professor tried to study me once
and set up camp outside
the president’s room,
but she left running
long before dawn,
quaking a telltale story
of little boy’s laughter
ringing out in the night
– this to jokes and jostles
from brothers and pledges
too tough to be spooked.

After the shooting
no one saw me for a year,
I hid behind the lids of their eyes
and in the edges of their cheeks,
in the smell of sweat
and boys and sex,
only to reemerge
by Halloween,
in rumors passed
from class to class,
a bottle of spirits
changing mouths and hands
and when everyone had drunk
the sightings began again:

A blue-eyed coed,
a house-mom’s son,
and did you know
that hidden tunnels run
like veins beneath the campus;
where wandering once,
a sophomore lost her life
to a 1980s satanic panic cult?

But the brothers laugh
these stories off,
knowing my presence
belongs to them
– only maybe they laugh
a bit too loud,
cautious still of the unspoken,
unseen, and untouchable.

But the older alumni remember
this apparition fondly,
knowing well that it takes
loss and grief to earn
the comfort of the dead.





mackmaniMack Mani is a Forward Prize-nominated poet and author. His work has appeared in various magazines, including Neon, NewMyths, and Grasslimb. He currently lives in Portland, OR.