After you left, the world was made of words.
"He was a good man." "A true teacher." "A scout."
I tried to speak to you, but everyone was distraught.
"Someone help her." "Cry it out."
Wind comes from heaven. "Now he is with God."
A whirling vault of space-junk, you once said.
I fold your scout scarf to catch your silence.
North is "for your own good."
I set your maps to your absence.
It's Seventh Month, but we are Christians.
I sell the flat. The terrain: moved furniture,
four bone-white squares you forgot to paint.
Downstairs they light red candles pierced in earth.
The climate: ash-sweet air, papers fanned into flames
by neighbors, red-faced, punctual as strangers;
efficient and grieving in the joss-smoked dark.
Superstition, you whisper.
Our bombshelter is haunted.
You prance out, tear your hair and howl.
MGR: 06091982. Scared now?
No, I am your pacer who must not speak,
lest I lose count. One: "Make sure she eats."
Two: "Again, she took the wrong train. Again."
Three: "He would not want to see you like this."
They appear lost. I take bearings for them,
hold ice to my eyes before they come,
talk, sleepwalk. Carrying your torch
I interrogate my smile,
shine up each day like a tree.
Checkpoint: "You look okay."
No such thing as ghosts.
Your compass no longer works.
It shows a heart cabled with exhaustion,
a barb-wired tongue.
I walk on, triangulating ashes and absences,
watching for smoke, spooring a semaphore of silences.
We are nowhere on the map.
And so, prismatic, transmuted, unmade,
I am like you, not even lost.
By Ann AngQLRS Vol. 9 No. 4 Oct 2010