A GHOST STORY
Last night we walked down the old country road, new
to us. The full moon hung too low, and out in the fields a thick mist clung
to the immediate sky above the freshly harvested soy crops. This part was true
presuming what we could see during the day remained once night fell.
We agreed, it appeared haunted
but in that inviting way. What would happen? you asked
if we walked into the distant mist. I would vanish, and you’d be left
staring into the airy tendrils as though I’d never existed.
What if I went first, you said. Then, I’d be all alone
perhaps forever. We agreed to go together
and then decided we would not go at all.
Your breath spoke our bodies’ cold. Each sound
in this old Victorian home has a lost cause.
Or as you remind me, cause, effect may well be
simultaneous. I attribute the hard rain patter
inside to just mice within the walls.
Maybe the mice are possessed,
suggest your steps on the stairs.
This house, so large, it’s like we live apart
in different centuries. The rain scurry returns
or never left. Nothing is scary
about a noise in itself, right? Just mice.
As with the fields, it’s the spaciousness that frightens,
yes? Being able to see past the immediate,
that there is something barely visible beyond
the last perceptible thing. It’s all that possibility
that scares me. Love,
the oldest ghost story of all. You’re just down the hall
or I am. I am. What happens to the other here
in our different nooks when we forget we aren’t
alone, momentarily, and then become so? I worry
as I write this, I’m causing us, once more, to vanish.
Jacob Scheier is a recent transplant from Toronto to Yellowknife. He’s a poet, essayist, and journalist. His full-length poetry collections include the Governor General’s Award winning More to Keep us Warm (2007) and the forthcoming Is This Scary (2021)—both with ECW Press.