Note: This poem is for a good friend who is struggling with depression.
It has been months since I last saw you
though we spoke the other day.
Twenty minutes it took you
to reply, one word,
the article I thought you’d love.
The one about taking dinosaurs from hollow places
and other earthen secrets.
Perhaps I am the one being haunted
by the ghost of you,
though you couldn't muster the energy
to rattle any chains
or change the water pressure
or throw books off the shelf
or get out of bed today
or pick up the phone and give me a call.
Often now I suspect
you have been replaced
by some paler version of yourself.
A facsimile, sweating color until you rattle
like dead leaves
a phantom, wearing your clothes
and sleepwalking your halls.
There a space heater rattles through frozen days.
Would you melt away into nothing
if the sunbeams met you again?
Or would you blossom,
spring in your step,
shedding winter’s chill like a childhood blanket?
You know I still have mine.
I left it there one summer past,
and the you-that-was mailed it back to me
folded and softer and smelling of detergent.
Maybe I could leave more
objects, like breadcrumbs,
to lead you back to me.
But maybe now
your hands would pass through them, intangible
and you would forget.
I wish you were a poltergeist,
because at least violent spirits
have color to spare.
I would take the broken glass,
the writing on walls,
cold spots and harassment.
Anything but the void of you,
a colder apparition
carved with hollow spaces I can’t fill.