ghosts walk under the
canopy of cedars and pines.
everything smells a little bit like
gin and tonics.
floral and smokey.
there are ghosts in the shadows
and I have half the mind to
speak to them, bum a cigarette.
I lost my ghost in the forest somewhere,
in one of them hollows just over there,
or maybe where the lake ebbs against
the slimy shale and water-smoothed stones
like old lovers.
lost and still missing.
but I don’t have the heart to be a hunter.
it’s a lonely business talking to ghosts.
post-meridian sunlight and whispers
of Arora Borealis in the summer sky.
we’ve seen this all before,
in some other life maybe,
one we burned up before we ever knew we had it.
then again nothing is really
wasted, nothing quite gone.
the ghosts crowd around the fog
and the forest smells like gin and fire.
my ghost is out there somewhere, and I could follow
the roots like bloodlines.
white as the soft bone of birch.
lost in the time it took a
cigarette to burn to fingers.
but I don’t have the heart
to go on looking for it.
no, not just yet.
Spencer K. M. Brown:
Every year when I was a kid, my family would vacation on Lake of the Woods
in Ontario, Canada. It was a very special place for me, being surrounded by
the lake and virgin forests. I’d spend days among the wild, fishing and
exploring and feeling as if I were the only person on the earth. I hadn’t
been back there in many years and then we made a trip when I was an adult.
There came this profound rush of nostalgia and a deep connection to that
landscape, as if it had been waiting for me that whole time. I rarely set
out to write a poem, rather, for me writing comes on suddenly like a dream
or vision. I wrote it on the way home in the back of a van my family rented
for the trip. It was was dawn somewhere in Minnesota and I was watching the
world awaken as everyone slept. I wanted to capture those feelings of that
time and place, and so I let the words come and tried my best to put them
down on paper.