How To Be a Ghost

I have always been fascinated by the idea of ghosts.

Not afraid of them, really, but a little bit awed by the fact that there was something driving them that was never resolved, a pull strong enough to keep them from transcending and tether them to haunt an earthly place forever, or at least until they resolved whatever it was they were clinging to.

That kind of determination impresses me.

I recently watched the Ricky Gervais/ Greg Kinnear / Tea Leoni movie called Ghost Town, and watching it sort of altered my perception of the ties that bind just a little bit. The movie's central premise was that it was not about the deceased person' unfinished business that prevented crossing over, but that of the living.

It is we, the quick, who cannot seem to let go of the dead.

Which reminded me of this poem:

How To Be a Ghost

We are alone, and we are alive.
No longer slaves, we reach out
With calloused hands
Toward living silence, but
Our heart startles us
With blood.

We who loved the whispering woods,
The evening light behind the house,
The path by the river,
The dirty red lights shining
On wet city streets –
The sweet, soundless sorrow
Of being free.

When we return,
The breeze and the dawn will
Return as well, flourish
Under our step.
The cats will know.
We will have walked home,
To live where we will live.

We are the cold of winter
That drips under your collar
While you fumble for keys.
We lurk in shivered shadows
Watching for the moment –
The moment when you are

We are the bravados,
That make fools act the part
In the ways of love, and pain,
And the way the two are never distant,

We are the lines you ignore
until you have crossed them.

We are gossamer nights,
And days of tangled sheets -
Memories that hold you to your heart.

Nostalgia is our meat and drink.
Not the thing, but what you thought of it.
How it changed you.

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