Gathering Ghosts

— Harry Lafnear

Tonight, I won’t shoo them away.
Let them careen room to room, fleeing
something half remembered from
their living days.
Let them moan and mourn
for themselves or the world
they haven’t quite abandoned,
throwing tantrums
in that double-exposure way
a ghost does everything.

They can keep me company–
even when they’re being bad
and badger mad that part of the mind
that makes the blood race
and puts the hair on end.
I like this roller-coaster,
bucking-horse, final-countdown
feeling from my own armchair.

They’re only as naughty as I allow,
though tonight I allow a lot,
letting them ride the shadows
of headlights all across the walls,
argue in muffled rounds
from the absent neighbors’ flat,
knock down photographs
from wherever the cat has fled,
tap on light bulbs, tickle
my ankle and blow a chill
down the back of my naked knee.

Let them play and dance
and be as real as they dare to be.
Tonight, let them forget their solitude:
kindred spirits awaiting
the unfathomably distant dawn.

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