I want to tell you something.
I am my father’s only son,
the apple of his eye.
I cannot leave his house.
I would like to touch your hair.
Feel the breeze of my caress.
Can you see sepulchral light
in my eye, when I try to trace
my finger across your cheekbone?
How beautiful you are!
With that alabaster skin
you could almost be a ghost
then we could be together for always.
You shiver. Alas, only a living man
could warm you in his embrace.
Don’t be afraid. I never committed
a crime, did not push my wife
from this balustrade. It was only
a promise I gave to my father.
I was brought up to keep promises.
A solemn little boy, serious husband,
doting father. They’ve all gone now,
left me here. You can see my portrait
on the stairs, though it doesn’t do me justice.
But yes, my wife was lovely.
So are you, my pretty one.
Come closer, I want to see
what you really think of me.
Will you perhaps allow one icy kiss
on the moist warm palm of your hand?
Ah, it burns like fire? Do not run away.
3 responses to “Unpublished poem, ‘Ghost’”
Somehow, I doubt this one has a factual basis…but maybe I’m wrong?
I went to my dad’s today to meet a meter reader. The house is well furnished in the style of the 70s but, with the family gone, Mum dead and Dad in a care home, it now stands silent except for the hum of the boiler and the steady tick of a clock. Silent but not necessarily unoccupied…
There stands the boxed fluorescent tube Dad rather hazardously used to open and close the curtains he was too bent to reach. And there, in black and white, in a dusty photograph album, Mum and Dad pose lovingly outside their honeymoon cottage in Cornwall. Dad’s inhalers rest on the cover of his ancient word processor, and on Mum’s elegant leather-topped desk is a note in her hand, “Money…made round to go round.”
As I drew away from the kerb, Dad forced his right arm up in a painful wave as always – or so for a split second it seemed…
‘Ghost’ certainly has a deliciously creepy feel to it, and I dread to think how your spectral character will make good the promise to his father! If the poem really is based on fact – or worse still, personal experience – do please tell me about it. And I’ll tell you about the one time I really did see something the might – just might – have been a ghost…
Thanks Paul. No, I just made it all up. It’s a ghost story in free verse. I don’t know where on earth these things come from. I like your little story. See you on Tuesday afternoon for that coffee.
Thanks Angela. There was a time I’d have been in no doubt that ‘Ghosts’ was pure invention. But then on Sunday 5th September 1976 I saw something at Barmouth that made me question my fundamental assumptions. Tell you about it over coffee on Tuesday. Regards Paul