Recurring dreams stem from regret,
refluent, returning as if lifted 
into an apogee of longing that trails
the moon endlessly around the earth,
unquenched desire or unresolved conflict.

In these dreams the revenant dead ,
or those who might have died,
because you lost their addresses
twenty years ago when the world
first came to an end,

pop up like burnt toast 
out of their special nowheres,
appear framed by darkness
when blue doors open,
flutter, whispering like velvet,
out of the unraveling years.

In restaurants they turn out to be
the waiter, presenting the bill
of an unwelcome reckoning.
Even in unfamiliar houses 
they wait like distant cousins
who have nowhere else to go:

phantoms on the stairs trying 
to pat me or pluck at my sleeve 
with their unsubstantiated fingers.
Happiness keeps on asking
to hold my hand like the ghost 
of a harmless idiot child

whom nothing can offend,
who follows me down the cellar steps
to where I get a jar of sleep from 
the peeling cobalt-painted cupboard,
and keeps on grinning

no matter how many times
I ask him where is your mother?
and tell him to go away.

©2001 F.J. Bergmann

"Ghosts" appeared on Words-myth Issue #5 January 2007

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