On greeting one’s ghosts, then letting them go

A little box, wooden, chipped at the corner. I will keep buttons and bright things inside it. Your ghost leans into a headwind as it walks away.

I learned my love of bone from you, and there was something architectural and defined about the way we loved. A little crest carved from bone, its angles surprisingly gentle under my fingertip. Sometimes I am surprised by how warm bone can be. Your ghost sleeps in the marrow of my bones.

A feather from a jaybird. Solitary, ephemeral. A leaf in the wind, a seed in the wind. A feather in the wind. Your ghost is gone like a feather in the wind.

Blue and white. So many little images to worship: a boat, a willow, a palace, a gate. Two birds and a story. Broken china, little birds. Your ghost departs on the flyways only you can see.

Salt air, abalone shell, wrack lines on the shore. I needed no token; you gave no token. Your ghost recedes like a slow tide.

I arrived. I kiss your ghost on the cheek; you departed.

A song. A song, and I don’t remember the words, and I never knew the melody. Your ghost disappears like childhood.

The edge of an ocean. The edge of a river. The edge of a lake. The edge of a pond. A ship on the water. Two ships on the water. A fish in the water. An animal swimming in the water. A stone skimming across the surface of the water. I kiss your ghosts on their stubborn cheeks; they slide into the water.

One sweet bruise of crushing tenderness. I lean toward your ghost; it is already gone.

I know the contours of a valley I have never seen. I know how the river arches its spine and writhes around the high points of land, the trees, the hard banks. Your ghost disappears in the high grass of the sweet meadows and all I smell is crushed sedge and fresh water.

You gave me a story and the ends were beginnings. You gave me a story and I held it in my hands. I held it in my hands awhile, then you took the story back again, and I smiled when you held your palms flat toward me. Your ghost winces, and I wince, but we cannot hurt one another with stories for weapons. We cannot wield words except in joy, for me, and in power, for you.

And who will be invited into the emptiness?

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