The hand and the page
In the next room
Five ghosts are staying up late:
The eldest is Irish, a character
In a story by James Joyce,
The others just passers-by
From the obituary page in an old newspaper.
They’re having their nightly chat
Over a couple of bottles of cheap wine
That the old Irish guy bought
With cash he swiped from a bank in Dublin.
There’s no light in the window,
No dense and thorny dark,
Just a table and five ghosts.
I’ve been there
With a thousand-year-old page in my hand,
Reading an old manuscript
By a medieval monk,
Perhaps Thomas A Kempis,
Or Saint Aquinas.
And I don’t know
What made me think for a second that I was
This writer’s ghost
And that the other ghosts surely knew.
When I woke the next day,
The place was as calm
As reed-beds after a storm.
The five chairs in place,
And the room neutral.