Ghostliness

 

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“I woke up this morning completely tangled up with a child who snores and sleeps with eyes almost fully open. His bony feet are always kicking mine, he head-butts me in the ribcage half the time, and turns and elbows me the other half.  I got up, granted myself the slow luxury of French press coffee brought back to bed and read until he woke up and began to read too.”

I found the above, with the picture, in my drafts here.  I’ve been working on a post that’s kind of a complicated synthesis of lots of stuff, but I feel bad that there hasn’t been a prompt this week, so I was digging through the archives of unposted half-started almost-thoughts.

Tonight I was at work until pretty late.  And tomorrow I’ll go to work pretty early. I worked hard today.  Cleaned my desk.  Wrote some emails.  Did some poems.  Figured out some technology.  Smiled at some people who didn’t exactly deserve it (you know who you are, haters).   When I stood up to leave work, I thought, “I’m a complete fake.”  I don’t know why I thought that.   But the ghosts of past insecurities can be mad hard to shake, can’t they?  They haunt me sometimes as I walk home in the crisp cold.

I think about ghosts a lot.  Not just because of Halloween, but because I like the idea of ghosts.  I like that so many people who are otherwise devoid of magical thinking sort of believe in them.  And I like that I am as qualified as anyone to define the rules of ghost hood.  I like believing that there are things I can’t see and can’t know.  Even living people can be ghosts in absentia.  Social media can make everyone you’re ‘friends’ with a ghost in your decision making process even when you’re alone, if you let them.  And I can haunt someone if I want, even while being alive (though it’s frowned upon).  Here’s a ghosty poem for you.  Do with it what you will.   (And by ‘what you will’ I obviously mean write a ghostly poem and haunt my inbox with it)

 

by John Philip Johnson

She kept its bones in a glass case
next to the recliner in the living room,
and sometimes thought she heard
him mewing, like a faint background music;
but if she stopped to listen, it disappeared.
Likewise with a nuzzling around her calves,
she’d reach absent-mindedly to scratch him,
but her fingers found nothing but air.
One day, in the corner of her eye,
slinking by the sofa, there was a shadow.
She glanced over, expecting it to vanish.
But this time it remained.
She looked at it full on. She watched it move.
Low and angular, not quite as catlike
as one might suppose, but still, it was him.
She walked to the door, just like in the old days,
and opened it, and met a whoosh of winter air.
She waited. The bones in the glass case rattled.
Then the cat-shadow darted at her,
through her legs, and slipped outside.
It mingled with the shadows of bare branches,
and leapt at the shadow of a bird.
She looked at the tree, but there was no bird.
Then he blended into the shadow of a bush.
She stood in the threshold, her hands on the door,
the sharp breeze ruffling the faded flowers
of her house dress, and she could feel
her own bones rattling in her body,
her own shadow trying to slip out.

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