How to Help a Ghost
Some days I leave the grocery store and walk
all the way to the door
of our old house without thinking.
Even the strange dog waiting at the window seems to recognize me
as I stop just short
of trying my key at the lock.
You were a thread of cobweb I breathed in and couldn't
swallow, couldn't cough up. All our boxed-up letters
can't fathom the indifference
of the garbage truck, hoisting
the cans like an aging bodybuilder.
Hell is a country where it rains year round
and you must spend all day writing postcards
to relatives you don't love. Today, you write,
And wasn't it the rain that caught you
rushing between buildings, someone else's jacket
on your back, face turned
away, as if to avoid a camera? I wasn't
there to see it, but I imagine all the things
you never told me as a line of footprints
dried into the concrete.
My mistakes are throwing
bunches of roses at me, cheering
for an encore. So here is my aria: a dirt
road, seven beers, the headlights
off. Enough of this.
Some day, one of the dark shapes wandering
across the frozen lake will turn out
to be you. I can already hear you at the door
shaking the frost
off your boots.
"How to Help a Ghost" copyright 2014 by Nick Lantz, from How to Dance as the Roof Caves In. Used by permission of Graywolf Press. All rights reserved. www.graywolfpress.org