Water on Slate and the Voices of Living Ghosts.

Water on Slate and the Voices of the Living Ghosts.

It rained last night and there is water on the slate,
the old shingles left at the side of the house
when you bought it a decade or more ago.

Water puddles on the grey stone,
the oil that permeates each slab
provides a barrier, protects stone from water.

This morning, you do not feel the spirit
that normally presses you forward.
Call it creative. Call it holy. Call it self-preservation,
It simply was not there. You were dry
as a stone on a summer’s day.

There is a tendency – I know it well –
to blame the spirit for leaving,
to be the victim of an unexplained abandonment,
easy enough considering the abandonments
you have actually experienced too often in life.
Curses and crying and the gnashing of teeth
(Not really, but I love that phrase, the gnashing of teeth,
so biblical.). are the natural reaction.

But then I hear my therapist whisper.
Ten years and a day’s drive away
and she still posters me. I hear her whisper
“Where’s the barrier?
“The question is never what is the barrier.
That answer is simple. It is me. It is always me.

No, the question is where.
What am I doing, thinking, not doing, not thinking;
where am I false to myself or afraid to simply
confused to the extent that the spirit
is like water on slate?

In the meanwhile, my therapist tells me.
(Her voice is musical. She is an opera singer.
Perhaps that is why I put up with it.”
You have work to do.

There’s always work. Work as if the spirit is there.
Even when it is not, you work.
You throw words on paper like paint.
Hoping some of it finds a pattern,
a vein of gold, something, anything
worth the reading, the listening, the viewing, but

even if it does not,
all that work has a purpose,
letting me know just where the spirit
is not.

About this poem.

Shh! Don’t tell anybody. I hear the voices of the wise people in my life far more than a man should admit. Ghosts of the living.

This was supposed to be an essay, but it bored even me. I flipped it into poetry.

I could not decide a title on this one, so I used both of the ones I was choosing from.

Tom

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