they walk past me single file in that half light between waking and sleeping.
ghosts of the living are always the hardest to discern in this moment, the time it takes for you to stretch a toe, count your fingers, open an eye and check the time, the bedside table a glassy, still lake choked with magazines and books, the foam of your life washed ashore with the gentle lap of wakefulness.
the actor, the dancer, the writer, the waiter, the addict, the restaurateurs, the lover, the friends, curly haired, thinning, straightened with a blow-dryer, four-eyes, green, blue, brown, hazel, gray, black; all in a chorus line backed by revolving mirrored panels, tall, short, medium, thin for the most part, one barrel-chested, hairy or smooth, jewish, catholic, protestant, atheist, agnostic, seminary-, street-, college, high school-educated, but all there just this one time, a meeting among friends and strangers, hung on the thread of my life.
the dead are easy to account for, they don’t stray too far and can be conjured up with the slightest thought, an american airlines ticket, a ballet position, a pair of glasses, the part in a head of hair, a laugh, the smell of a burning cigarette, the stare of a pair of green eyes, a hug, the fake jab to an upper arm in jest, the lonesomeness of the loss of their companionship.
the living are another matter entirely. scattered to the four corners, you know they’re there, but at the same time, they’re not. of course, communication is easier, but it doesn’t make it easier, it makes it harder because they’re always just out of reach. ghosts you can touch.
have you been kissed by a man with a mustache? have you felt the soft hair slip across your lips, under your nose, along your neck, in the hollow of your throat, brush up against your earlobe, the scapula, an armpit, your nipples, that depression where your life was disconnected from your mother’s, a hip, the inside of your thighs, the back of your knees, the perineum, a toe, an ankle, and witnessed the smile that breaks across their face as they look up at you from the end of the bed?
and that’s what flashed through my mind the other morning when the alarm rang, interrupting a musical adaptation of the years between 197_ and today.