Dialectical Ghost Lines
Vera. She taught me to see
while still in the womb,
how to read with unformed
eyes–I close them, and she is there,
a dialectic of alphabetic blood
and still in flow. She weaves letters
into puddles of light.
If she moves near you, in a dream,
her skin appears the color of Easter eggs.
She is fragile. Her lips are blue,
and there are tiny wrinkles on her ears.
She jots down notes about the future.
James. He appeared when I was shopping
at the west-side grocery in Athens, Ohio.
He said, “Hello Scott,” and kept going
down the aisle. I tried to follow him
but he had already passed the end-cap,
so I ran to the front without my cart
to cut him off, but he was out,
still there but gone, a little sprite
playing hopscotch with my soul.
He showed up a few years ago in photos
from Shenandoah National Park.
I knew it was him.
He was standing on a rock in a black suit,
and he had the look, the gaze that is long
and the eyes that change and look away,
like a season inside an iris with a storm pattern
that never settles. He likes to peel potatoes
wearing nothing but old socks.
The skin of his buttocks is wrinkled,
pressed white from sitting too long
on the old stool he brought from the barn.
He needs a haircut, his teeth are yellow,
and he quit going to church long ago,
which is why I know him.
Then there was Shol,
the one I met in San Salvador,
who came to teach me the truth
He came in the form of beauty,
a flower, la floripundia,
and at night its erotic scent
would drift into my window
and sit on my chest
until I was asleep.
Soon I was suspended over a hot
pit of black pitch and dipped
until each of my cells screamed in pain.
I could not hear them,
I felt them reach for salvation
and fail, fail as the last gurgle
of my lungs began to echo
off the walls to startle me from sleep.
Then its voice said
No, this is not a conversation.
Finish your poem.