Sunday, May 11, 2008

Ghosts Because They're Not

One, two, three glasses of wine. He loses count and so opens the bottle. A thin wedge of moon, brighter than winter, slips down through the budding maple trees west of the garage. Some animal - possibly bear, probably raccoon - passes through the side yard, knocking aside a tin camping plate as it goes, setting both dogs to growling and scratching at the windows and doors. Is it hard to concentrate - writing, reading? It is hard to concentrate.

His face is sunburned, though with pale circles around the eyes where sunglasses sat all morning and afternoon. It was cool early, then rain clouds came and went. Nobody else bears the mark of the sun so clearly, so intensely. He saved one of his daughter's birds earlier, when other men tried and failed, and when they complimented him after, he said, "yeah, it was a good catch, wasn't it." Then for the rest of what remained as afternoon wondered what was happening - psychologically, spiritually - to allow for such grandiosity, such unreflective self-congratulation.

T. is sober, as was long suspected. They share carrots, almonds in the shade behind the poultry barn. You climb mountains because they're "there," you hunt ghosts because they're not "there."

Yet later - now, in a sense - he revisits the whole question of whether ghosts are real. Two days running he has passed the old house out walking and wondered about her. There is a feeling in the air outside like a tire swing whose rope is frayed, like a child's garment left out in the rain. Or like someone is drinking after dark and bad things are going to happen that nobody outside the family can or will talk about.

So he feels bad for the neighbors living there now - wants to tell them what he knows but how. When they walk or drive by he senses a mostly invisible black bag trails behind them, one that fills faster than they can empty it or decide how do you do it, drag this heavy burden.

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