My Mother’s Ghost Visits Our Living Room
Your dad changed everything again, didn’t he?
He’s always moving those couches, never happy
with the final product, god bless him. HGTV
is still on the television, you’re still asleep
at the table, it’s like nothing and everything
has changed at the same time. Leah doesn’t
come down here much anymore, does she?
I guess she’s not used to seeing a different
woman’s face in the armchair. I don’t blame her,
I just wish she could see I’m okay with this,
this move and repeat, this try and try again.
Your dad can never sit still long enough.
You see this couch? The two of us used to
watch baseball here, drink white wine here,
fall asleep here. I’m pretty sure I left my mark.
There are wine stains on the couch,
maybe even some of my hair lodged in the cushions,
a resilient memory. But now, the couch has moved
across the room, almost like it’s running
away from something. I’m scared it’s me.
My Mother Becomes a Ghost
We’re in her bedroom,
she is opening the darkened
wood of her jewelry box,
giving me the most simple
have become too swollen
to wear it. Sometimes
she’ll use it as a toe ring,
but more often it’s collecting
dust in its coffin, the rosemary
of the wood smelling
like ash. She gifts it to me
and I think hand-me-down
with a tired look of
can I leave now? and she
smiles that knowing smile
and tells me she loves me
before sending me
In the morning
my father will tell me
she passed and I will not
be able to cry, even to my teddy bear
and I will remember
this teddy bear at 3 years old
and how she gave him
to me and I have kept him
all this time even though
he is frayed and empty
the way her bedroom
is now and I will
take the ring from
my dresser and hold
it the way I wish she could
hold me. It doesn’t
slip on easy, like it’s fighting
to stay buried or to be
buried with her,
but like the quiet
of the breathalyzer
shut off, the ring too
eventually gives up.
It only fits on my left hand
where a wedding band would sit.
Kieran Collier is a Boston-based poet, three-time member of the Emerson College CUPSI team, and president of the Emerson Poetry Project, Emerson College’s only spoken word organization. He has flat feet and a vitamin D deficiency.