i say nothing to the man crouched
in the hallway or to the woman sitting
on the stairs because i am not supposed
to – they are not there. you are not
supposed to talk to people who are
not there. you are not supposed to see
people who are not there. and the
little boy at the quarry where i go
sometimes to think and throw rocks
has been dead for 50 year, says he can
hold his breath a lot longer than me,
dares me to jump in and i pretend i don’t
hear him because that is what i’m
supposed to do. and he is more insistent
every time i go back, until he is telling me
one day, he will just push me in. sink or swim.
and he laughs and grins an evil little boy grin
and i get on my bike and pedal home in
the dark, careful of cars. no one moves
in the cemetery as i fly by, as still as
their graves; you’d think their bones ached,
from all that time in one place.  i keep moving,
it’s what i’m supposed to do. i ignore the drunk
man asking me for a loose cigarette outside
the bodega just like i ignore the old lady
shuffling about on the sidewalk, looking
up one end of the street, then the other,
back and forth, like she’s lost because
there’s nowhere she actually needs to be,
right now. she’s dead. she can go wherever
the hell she wants. i think maybe i should
tell her this, but when i look back again
she’s gone. i shrug. the man asking for
cigarettes spits at my feet and picks up
a butt from a crack in the pavement, asks
me for a light which i don’t have either.
he looks at me funny. asks what’s wrong
with me. i see ghosts. they see me back.
i’m not supposed to talk about it.

Dani Tauber is a basket-case poet, professional ghost, former music journalist, and antiques archivist from NJ. She shares a room with more than 50 journals and several antique locks of hair. She doesn’t know what she’s mourning yet, but she’s beyond consolation.

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