Letter to a Ghost
Two forty three in the morning, digital
clock doesn't tick.
Still awake, writing because it's the
only thing that keeps me going.
I don't need to write in form, put words in
certain places or order.
I only write to you, even though I know I should
stop writing to ghosts.
But I have to—some childish notion that
ghosts can come back, that you can
Maybe if I write enough, until my hand is black
from graphite and cramped,
You left too soon, though I've come to learn that
everyone leaves eventually.
Mum and dad left when I was
five, though they always came back to
pay the bills and cook dinner, ghosts
floating around and going about their everyday
business. I sort of wonder
why you don't come and
stay now—you're a ghost too.
Sometimes I wait for your silver Toyota,
Corolla or something else—I don't remember—
to pull into the driveway, ready to work
with your brother on a Saturday
I wait for conversations between you and I, in
silly high pitched cartoonish voices that
no one else can imitate.
Then I remember that Saturdays
don't work like that anymore and your
car is with your wife—or with your
your stepson?—and that
monologues in a childish voice
aren't a conversation.
Your little girl hasn't grown much since you
last saw her.
Brown hair is shorter, curlier, and she's no longer
that zit-faced young teenager with
She still remembers how you look with your
short, thinning dirty blond hair, brown eyes that
don't like looking at cameras, and
white tee-shirts, probably Hanes.
It takes her seconds to remember your façade,
your voice, but minutes to remember
the other ghosts that
she hangs around.
Other kids played games with family,
board games that only gather dust in my room
as we sat on the back deck on summer
afternoons; normal Saturdays.
You'd have a cold beer out of your brother's
fridge and sit in a white chair, facing east for
Then you'd let me sit with you so we could
talk, sometimes in silly voices, but most often
"How's school?" was left to other family members
to ask, too trivial and boring
for you. Deeper things were discussed,
though I can't remember much except how
you said you'd smack your brother if
I needed you to.
It wasn't just a figure of speech either, not to
you anyway. You knew how
your brother needed to
stop acting like a ghost around me.
He never really did by the way, trying to
act oblique when I can still
see through his transparency.
Maybe you should have smacked him
Two, one, nineteen hundred and sixty one.
Nine, twenty nine, two thousand and five.
Three, twenty three, two thousand and eleven
and two, forty four.
Just numbers, they mean nothing to you
do they, unless they're in binary.
Then maybe you could work with them,
use them for work and network
another town in Massachusetts like
you did before.
Maybe you could network my town instead since
I know I'm missing