Originally written circa 2005.
Ghost, you call me. Not a ghost, not the ghost, but
Ghost, making that my proper name, not (of course)
my Christian name, but the older kind:
the one that means something
and tells something about you
that remains true. There’s nothing new
about me being Ghost, only that I’m called
by that name now, and I’m finally
comfortable with it. Back when I was just a guy,
long before I leaped off that bridge to get here,
I used to daydream about flying
and walking through walls. I used to wish for the power
to blow through a window so everyone knows you’re there
and you don’t even have to show up.
I never had impact, and didn’t want risk,
so my fantasy became impact without risk:
that would be the life, I thought. A good joke:
I’ve got the life I wanted, now that I don’t have a life.
I used to cringe when they told scary stories at camp.
I remember that later
I laughed at horror films, pretending bravery.
But once you’re here, you find
it’s nothing like those. It’s all so – routine.
You show up at regular times, whistle a little in a dark hallway,
provide a moment of clarity
to someone who’s used to being safe and warm.
You become a lesson no one believes in until it’s learned.
It’s not all bad. It’s a beautiful world
when you can’t really feel it.
It takes your breath away sometimes to see the way it moves.
I spend years just standing
in front of odd, mundane things:
not sunsets, not rainbows,
but garbage trucks and fires and drive-by victims.
It’s all so beautiful, the way
disposal has become an art form. (It was my art, after all.)
Ghost is what you call me now,
and I’ll take it the way
I have always taken it: with a bowed head.
Before, I would always
come when called because I had no place to be
other than the place I was called to.
Nothing’s really changed:
I blow through, bother you, maybe I’ll be remembered
in your children’s stories. Maybe we’ll see each other
one night on the landing, where
you might call me Ghost, or you might
call me imaginary. No matter.
I’ve always answered to either one.