but I’m a ghost. Do you understand
that the person you love
is fleshy and heavy from hip
to boot to make up for this?
There’s a name for it: Brenda,
but I can’t fool everyone.
Even if I have convinced you,
and I don’t bruise easily, that I am yours
to strong-arm and throttle.
Even when you force me to become
of this world—of this cold floor.
I can do so only for a moment.
When the moment falls off
and primal fool-seasons
affix their wintry incubus,
I tend to stomp around to another
bed. Hurting you vaporizes me,
which is why I love others.
I don’t leave a flukeprint in the sweat
of things. The ground won’t greet me
like a domestic animal when I walk.
When I talk you glaze over like the sun
on shifty pavement.
I won’t see the lip of a step
before I bloody my knees again.
(The blood isn’t so bad, but for a ghost
it doesn’t make sense.
Others can draw it, they don’t know.
They make it into a potion for themselves
but you try to make me look at it.)
Copyright © 2008 Brenda Shaughnessy
Used with the permission of The Permissions Company, Inc.
on behalf of Copper Canyon Press.