Back into the Living (Again)
BY Crystal S. Gibbins
after Ben Westlie's "And there are Ghosts"
At night you can hear
about when they were alive,
when it was them sleeping
in your small room
you now lie down in,
shut your eyes in,
depart from the real to the dream world in
just for a few hours.
Sometimes they sound angry—
a dull thud and clunk
of the furnace fires into life,
pipes shout words, each syllable wrapping
around your bones like new muscle.
And why shouldn’t they display such bitterness?
You are the body,
the life, you get to still feel,
you have the time they envy.
You are too scared to walk
across the floor to switch on
the light. You hold
tighter to the warmth—
—that is your shield.
Silently you call for the rhythm of water,
the ocean with its thousand bodies
singing and dancing,
to seduce you into sleep, but you can’t
help but hear
scraping sounds on the porch,
which you tell yourself is just small
animals from the woods, you can’t help
but hear footsteps
outside your bedroom door,
which you tell yourself is the freezer’s
thrum and shiver,
you can’t help but hear breathing,
which you tell yourself is just air
finding the cracks in the window
frame, and you hope
they do not glide
through and enter.
Crystal S. Gibbins is pursuing her PhD in poetry at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, where she also serves on the editorial staff for Prairie Schooner. Her work has appeared in dislocate, Free Verse, Canary, Literary Bohemian, Yellow Medicine Review, among others.