ghosts


House

Each splinter of this house knows his name;
every mote of sunlight shimmers with his skin.
The bricks are mortared with his sweat, windows
glazed with his breath, and the mirrors forlorn
because his reflection comes no more.
He walks the boundaries of his place, boots
crunching at the gravel of the drive and
thumping the wood of the welcoming porch,
whose planks of arms reach out to him with love.

Fingernails scrape along the door, a hand
impotently turns the knob, and he wonders
why he gains no entrance to this place
which contains him, blood and bone.
I push the door wide, invite the dark inside
to sit by the fire, which longingly breathes his name.

I cannot tell you, love, that I want you here,
not this wraith seeking wisdom from stone. 
Do not torment this house, moaning at your touch,
yearning for the one who loved it into shape.
Do not torment me with questioning eyes,
and lips which cannot remember my name.
Earth has you now, fit into her house of clay.
There is no returning through that narrow door,
no matter, my heart, how great the love before.

—PJ Thompson

I was just thinking about how murky the messages we get from the Otherside are. I’m not sure if the murk is on their side—because they don’t have the energy, or whatever, for full and clear disclosure—or if the murk is on our side and our inability to interpret correctly.

I was thinking in particular of the TV show, Celebrity Ghosts Stories. I didn’t watch it regularly when it was still being broadcast because I thought it was pretty dumb, but I noticed one evening not long after the death of David Carradine that there was a new episode featuring him. My morbid curiosity got the better of me, so I watched.

His segment was preceded by a message that said he’d filmed this story four months before he died. The segment was all about how he had married Annie, a widow with three young children. Annie’s husband, Dana, had died tragically at a young age of cancer (I believe). David moved into her house and talked about how much he loved her and the children.

But weird things kept happening. The closet door in their bedroom kept opening and closing and an unnatural cold seeped out of it. When he’d go in the closet, it would be much colder than the bedroom. David got the sense that it was the spirit of Annie’s husband. In particular, one of Dana’s ties was still in the closet, and it kept flipping over to reveal a logo that said, “Grateful Dead.”

David’s interpretation: “It was obviously a joke, that the dead were grateful . . . it was the only way he could communicate [that] he now felt like everything was settled, the kids were taken care of and I was gonna be there for them. And I will be.”

Do you remember how David died? Of autoerotic asphyxiation. Hanging naked in the closet of his hotel room in Thailand.

Could be a horrible coincidence, of course. But in hindsight, it appears Dana had a different message for David. Because we’re human, we tend to interpret things the way we want to, to rationalize and project our needs and desires. I don’t know why the dead are not “allowed” to just come right out with pronouncements like, “Dude, don’t try the whole autoerotic thing. My kids are depending on you.” Like I said, maybe they haven’t got enough energy for clear-cut messages, or maybe that whole free will thing comes into play and they can’t interfere with our own choices that directly.

I don’t know, but it’s creepy as hell.

Random quote of the day:

“What else is a poem made of? Well, yes, ghosts.
But ghosts are only what accidents give birth to
once you have learned how to make accidents happen
purposefully enough to beget ghosts.”

—John Ciardi, “No White Bird Sings”

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this random quote of the day do not necessarily reflect the views of the poster, her immediate family, Laurel and Hardy, Ariana Grande, or the Salvation Army Band. They do, however, sometimes reflect the views of the Cottingley Fairies.