Everything That Hurt Us Becomes a Ghost


By Sage Ravenwood

Categories: Literature / Poetry / Literary Studies, Women's and Gender Studies
Imprint: Gallaudet University Press
Paperback : 9781954622227, 100 pages, October 2023
Ebook : 9781954622234, 100 pages, October 2023
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Table of contents

Note from the Author                              ix
Glossary of Cherokee Words                 xi

I: Resonance

Among the Missing                                 3
A Name Is a Haunting                             4
Say Love                                                 5
Harbinger                                                6
Wallpapered                                            8
I’m Not the Branch                                10
Weigh Down                                          12
Animalistic                                             13

II: Familial Treatise

Native Land                                            17
You Can’t Hear the Lizards Chewing     18
Blood Boils a Family Whole                    20
Truck Stop Preacher                               21
The Weight of Hair                                  22
Moving Fear of Staying                           24
Less Godlike                                           26
Conversations with My Mother               28

III: Twilight’s Lonely Cleave

Night Speak                                            33
Atsisonvnv                                              34
Wolf in My Bed                                       35
The Creeping Thief                                36
Wolf in Camouflage                                37
Playing God Without a Flashlight           39
Scraped from a Boning Knife                 40
Pulp                                                        41

IV: Soft Animal

They Will Come for You                         45
Calf Bawling Mightily                             47
Rewind Go Back                                   49
Billy Goat and the Two Wolves             51
When Hunger                                        53
Girl Bait                                                 54
How to Outlive a Rapist                        56

V: Season’s Betrayal

I Apologized to the Cucumber Vine      59
Autumn’s Bones                                   61
Death’s Calling Cards                          62
Fair Trade                                            63
Seasonal Affliction                               64
By Belonging                                       65
Golanv                                                 66
What the Lawnmower Coughed Up    67
Bookends                                            68

VI: Leave the Braid (Abnegations)

I Lost January                                     71
Palm Whispers                                   73
Red Dressing                                      74
Bury Me Guilty                                    75
Burned Theatre of a Tweakers Den    76
What Escapes a Throat                      77
Might We Be Magic                            78
Loose Threads                                   79

Acknowledgments                              80

Sage Ravenwood's debut poetry collection explores surviving trauma, navigating the everyday through a deaf lens, and finding Indigenous acceptance and belonging.



Sage Ravenwood is a deaf Indigenous poet whose work deals with the lingering, resurgent trauma of familial violence and the machinations of colonialism. Everything That Hurt Us Becomes a Ghost is a poet’s response to her place in the wider world, exploring grief, anger, tenderness, and defiance. Ravenwood sheds light on Indigenous issues such as MMIW (Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women) and the Native American boarding schools, but she also makes space to center the natural world and her reverence of it. The poems in this collection are unafraid to name rage and pain as driving emotions yet strive for understanding and a way forward to healing.


Sage Ravenwood is a deaf Cherokee woman residing in upstate New York with her two rescue dogs, Bjarki and Yazhi. She is an outspoken advocate against animal cruelty and domestic violence. Her work can be found in The Temz Review, Contrary, Pioneertown Literary, Grain, The Familiar Wild: On Dogs and Poetry, The Rumpus, Lit Quarterly, PØST, Massachusetts Review, Savant-Garde, ANMLY, River Mouth Review, Native Skin Lit, Santa Clara Review, The Normal School, UCity Review, Punk Noir, Janus Literary, Jelly Bucket, Colorado Review, Pangyrus, PRISM International, 128 Lit, A Gathering of the Tribes, Ponder Review, and more. Everything That Hurt Us Becomes a Ghost is her first poetry collection.


Advance Praise

"Everything That Hurt Us Becomes a Ghost is a reclamation of self. Exploring the pain of family, domestic violence, survival, neglect, and rescue, Sage Ravenwood’s poems radiate as only the truth can. Captivating and alive, this collection shines with Ravenwood’s tenderness, in itself a work of art."

— Ruth Awad, author of "Set to Music a Wildfire"

“‘There’s no flesh between love and pain . . . Twin shadows  Never one without the other’—so begins Sage Ravenwood’s brilliant debut collection Everything That Hurt Us Becomes a Ghost. In each poem, we witness a girl, a woman, a self clawing at these twin shadows, desperate to extricate herself. Ravenwood asks, ‘Did you know, / Anger has a brother named Fear,’ giving us glimpses of what violence and abuse feel like, even as she warns us: ‘I own this darkness / The batteries in your flashlight are dead.’”

— Shipra Agarwal, writer and founder of Lityatra, a platform that supports the journeys of BIPOC authors

“Sage Ravenwood’s sublime debut is an ode to the animals within and among us, trauma and joy, the provisional cadences of the natural world, the rituals of passage, the body as recorder. With soft wonder and a documentarian focus, Ravenwood nourishes a space for the ordinary and unexpected to convene, epiphanies brought by the dazzling montage of image, sensation, and a consciousness tuned to the frequencies of the flesh and the ancestral. ‘All of life can’t put me / back together again Deaf ears / never hear you say Say love I can’t / I cut the words out of my throat,’ Ravenwood writes, and yet Everything That Hurt Us Becomes a Ghost is unmistakably a collection that endeavors to map the words, and a voice, into a new soundscape brought by survival.”

— Chris Campanioni, author of "A and B and Also Nothing"