a prose poem about ghosts
we’ll help you, my mother tells me, but you’ve got to want to help yourself too. my father, standing by my bed, saying, play the piano again for us, for your mind. i think of what it will mean to take medication: the white pill between my fingers like a secret, a pearl pressed flat on a train track. the cold water glass. my heart unfurling.
i dig through the dusty piano bench. pressed in a yellowed 60s copy of preparatory exercises are loose leaf pages, a secret. titled sebastian in someone else’s handwriting, scanned copy of notes drawn in pen on printed staff. sebastian, meaning: basket of marigolds, summer as rich as wine, brideshead, in the time before depression when my tongue was a moon crater still learning to how to taste the word man.
here, by the keys, my bones hum. melancholy is a night with no wind pressed up against my ribs. i hold on to my body as if it were its own secret, me, my blood, and all the words i cannot say. take my time with each note. my hands wreaths of rust, the dust spilling out of me. i think again of the pills, my heart prying itself open to reveal the real heart nestled inside, the red one, the one that beats.
summer is only a word, but it’s an orange word, a kind of burning. i play softly. there’s a ghost in the room somewhere. he might be sitting on the bench. he might be evaporating.