Tessa, Which Ghosts Become Mine?

Salt-and-pepper head,
hard to believe, how the years
changed us like this.
Me, of poor memory, limbering
to whose tomb, my grandpa’s whom I’ve
never met. So which ghosts become
mine? We turned into the side road
off the main, the trees as old as
these graves.

You came to me as a young man,
me a midwife to your book on
spiritual peregrination.
I’d started out in a new career–
manuscripts kept pouring in, an
unctuousness to keep me moist, eager.
A slight tinge of euphoria too.
That wasn’t myth, was it, even if
we’re looking at a carcass.

What we have: fragments. All else’ve
eclipsed. But yes I’m practicing the art
you’d mastered, taken so long to come into
my own–making this bread that I won’t
let grow stale. It’s a labor spent, often
a meditation, divvying up the dough of
my remaining years. And yes of course,
she’s dead, and we’re living, but daily
seeping, squaring up to that certainty.

Prompt: So we’re not dead yet, are we? I don’t know about you, but there seems be a kind of death when you’re not writing. Paraphrase that. Not writing seems to be a kind of death. I write therefore I am? Are you smelling ash? As if on cue, I am. Anyway why not hold that thought (or smell) and write a poem about death. It’s something that you hold close to your heart, I’d bet.
Here’s how one poet wrote about ash:

“The house and yard dressed in a skin of ash.
It was raining embers, the night air thronged
with giddy petals that swirled
on the updraft, flared
to incandescence before curling into papery
–Boey Kim Cheng, “Clear Brightness”

If not for death, we’d not be poets. Probably.


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