The Quotable

The Ghost’s Lament

Was it last spring in our woods when we found that shell
of toilet with its lid half-cracked, the bowl mid-surfacing
in leaves and mud? When you said, that bowl knew dolls, 
knew turtles, knew happiness? I never did ask you to explain.

Last night I was lost out there or found myself again
looking down at that hole of chipped porcelain and leaves.
Moss had grown over the lip of the lid, something you said
wouldn’t happen, that if left 20 years the white might gray,

perhaps even yellow, but nature wouldn’t lay carpet
over the whole. But remember how the velvet of moss
clung to the trunk of an oak tree and how you said it looked
like a green shrug on the body snug in its casket? 

I never asked you to explain. Instead, I stood and watched
as you stripped lichen from a birch—also yellow, also dying.
And then last night, with only the moon slitting through the dark,
I spotted again that patch of bare tree. I didn’t think there’d be a mark.

But there in that cluster of fir and oak, that birch shined like a glow-stick
misplaced at a party for lumberjacks. You should have seen it.
But you weren’t there. I was walking on my own. I lost time.
I lost place. I found myself, there again,

near the moss-covered porcelain. I didn’t wear a sweater.
I no longer wear a sweater. I didn’t need bug spray. They no longer
seem to bite. Later last night, I moved to explore the stream dammed
by beavers. They left, you’d said, years ago, first one then the other,
by trap or disease. Did I ever ask you to explain?

I only remember how you sat on that bank, how you split
a sandwich, cut it in two, and watched those creatures swim below
and resurface. Up and again, up again. You’d watch them tote
twig by twig as they built their house, as they tried to stop the river

from rushing on through, from taking away their everything.
I wish I could tell you how those beavers remain. Somehow
they’re still there. I wish I could explain. How every night
I can watch them. How every night we submerge and we resurface.

Michelle Menting has published poetry and nonfiction in Crab Creek Review, The MacGuffin, Bellingham Review, and Superstition Review, among other journals. She is the author of The Myth of Solitude (Imaginary Friend Press).

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The Quotable 9 Night and Day