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ghost story

April 5, 2009

the cabin is cold, the chill, steady air of torment and the spirit of buried things alive again in the darkness outside of my sheets. i am soiled with sweat and the forbidden excursions of my restless, wandering mind. to the restroom with myself to get clean. i sense uneasiness here, but it may just be my own.


i am back in my cocoon but i am not alone; the ghastly transparent apparitions of memory breeze along my skin. something’s wrong with the toilet; a missed connection or faulty piece of equipment. the water runs, and runs, giving a howl to the phantoms that surround me. most times i am happy to sleep alone, but not tonight. the lights are off now but i can see you. clearer, even. spirits of memory illuminated by darkness, orchestrated by the demonic flushing of ghost water.


in the hospital room at the cancer center. my sister, she’s 17, she sits in a cushioned chair to my right. she’s too young to see what we see. you, your veins pumping with oxycontin, are out of bed. you cradle a teddy bear in her arms, a gift from a kind friend. you whisper sweetly to the cub, as if it were one of your own, as if it were one of us. grabbing a thin blanket from your bed, you wrap the cub tightly, picking it up in your arms and singing to it. you walk about the room with it, silencing its cries with your gentle harmonies. did you think it was me? my sister? did you know it wasn’t real?


you have the shape of a woman but the form of a child. your auburn hair never quite knows what to do with itself, as do your lips in a smile. i have sensed your desire, the longing of your lips for the touch of my own, but i have long resisted, the weight of past indifference around my neck like the chains of jacob marley. i am lonely, i am beaten, i am an amateur olympian pinot noir diver plunged into the depths of the red, wet, darkness, where our mouths find each other for breath but our lungs die from carbon dioxide poisoning. i knew well enough to stay dry, stay above surface, where my skin wouldn’t be caked with the blood of crushed fruit. now it glows like ectoplasm.


one more movement and the boiling well of love within me overflows, spilling into her. i felt you jehovah, there in the lovely warmth of her skin. the wind sweeps through my pores as i stand at the cliffs in kiama. i felt you abba, there in the cold, cleansing breath of the pacific breeze. the choir sings amazing grace and my eyes fill with tears of mourning and wounded, desperate joy. i felt you yahweh, there in assuring palm of brian banks. i lay here under a bunk in this cabin, while the devil holds me and tells me truths i wish were lies and i feel you not. or is it you that holds me? mother bear sang to the cub in her arms. won’t you sing, too?


the ghost of eros leads me to a graveyard, revealing to me the maybe fates. your coffin not yet closed, i can see you, the blood drained from your veins and onto my hands. i want to give it back, but it’s too late. i am reminded of all that i can change, of all that is within my power. i am reminded that souls can be saved and misguided spirits can find their way back again. i get up. i go to the toilet, lift the cover and reassemble its bowels. flush.


nothing now but the silence of exorcism and the quiet hum of the not-yet.

3 Comments leave one →
  1. April 5, 2009 1:59 pm

    This was very powerful, Walt. It’s amazing how over the years certain images and memories become so poignant that they seem to “haunt” us, especially in moments of vulnerability and nostalgia. You’re a really good writer, Walt…keep it up…I want to see much more from you!


  2. April 5, 2009 6:12 pm


  3. itscarolina permalink
    April 6, 2009 3:43 am

    I really like how you tie memories together. So good.

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