Hungry Ghost

I found the ghost sitting on the arm
rest of my sofa, pale and silent, not
grey and hoary like Marley’s ghost,
weighed down with chains, or wailing
like the vengeful murdered; more like
spilt milk suspended in air—what remains,
I thought, when no one remembers your face—your
name a collection of letters, nothing more.

I’m hungry, it said, its voice less than
shadow, less than breath. So hungry. So
I raided the cupboard for something, anything
with the means to substantiate—cereal,
pop tarts, baby food—but all passed through it
like the shadows of fish through a murky pond, making
only a mess as they piled up undigested on the floor.

I’m hungry, again, it whispered. So I fed
it compliments, poetry, all manner of bullshit that
I thought it might want to hear, but my words
glanced from its diaphanous folds like dewdrops
from the feathers of gulls, sparkling like diamante or
dust motes found by the sun—Feed me!

it said, desperation in its voice, barely
louder now than the memory of a moth’s
wings beating; and so with nothing left
to give, I gave it my grandmother
teaching me piano in the parlour, a hundred
fights and makeups with my wife, chess games
with my once-girlfriend in Budapest, my daughter’s first
scream as she came suddenly to life;

and she took them
and ate them
and grew fatter and
fuller until, finally, her
cheeks were flushed with colour
and her hair, falling in soft curls, seemed almost to shine.

END

“Hungry Ghost” © 2017 by Dafydd McKimm. All rights reserved.

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