Ghosts (Dream Journal 2/97)


When I wake, words rattle through my head. "O lost, and by the wind grieved, ghost, come back again." Thomas Wolfe, I think. I shiver. Someone dances upon my grave. An old superstition. Maybe. I shiver again. I tell myself, no ghosts. No grieving wind here. My house is empty. Quiet. The woman is gone. The child is gone. The dog no longer lives under the porch. So ordinary. I resist the urge to search the rooms, to secure the windows and doors, to look under the bed.
To shake myself loose from the dream, I boil water for coffee, an Arabian mix, a robusta. And, coffee cake, with cinnamon, nuts, raisins, candied fruits, and glazed white on top, cut into small bite-sized squares. Taking refuge on the window seat's soft pillows, I count the birds. Look for buds on the plum tree. There are none. On the pane, only the faintest reflection of a much younger me at thirty-four. A trick of the glass.
Insistent, my mind revisits a night long ago. The closing door, speech frozen in time, a failure to engage. Red wine inched across the floor, staining the oak. I spent hours scrubbing the spot. I listened for the click of a key. There was none. To this day, the stain remains hidden under a rug like an emblem of missed connections.
Mundane occupations comfort me. Sorting papers for recycling; sewing a button on a blouse; watering plants; reading Thomas Wolfe. The broken cup from the night before, I ever so carefully sweep up and place in the can by the curb. Now, I obey the city notices. Now, I'm so willing follow the rules. There is no going back. Let the wind grieve. Only betrayals and memories remain in the mist. Only Ghosts.

So, how do I survive?