Poetry by Mary Carroll-Hackett

Ghost While I Cook

presses the buttons on the microwave, Heat, Reheat, Defrost. Hot Beverage. I say, Please don't do that. So he does it twice more. He especially likes Hot Beverage. Hot Beverage. Hot Beverage. Hot Beverage. I rinse spinach, slice mushrooms, melt butter, while he opens cupboard doors and drawers, rattes pots on the potrack, pulls the kitchen curtains back, until I finally ask What are you looking for? He does a little dance across the linoleum, like a kid in sockfeet. What am I looking for? he repeats. I am looking for forgotten dangers, the oldest grandmother, the origin of the buffalo, the warm blood moons, those lost Junes, when we remembered how to feed, how to tend, how to care, really care, for each other.



Ghost Says This Time It's Personal

like an arrow notched and dead-eyed into place with such ferocity that it sends us spinning straight into a space we could not even have imagined. Ghost says, That's what happens when the haunting is completely your choice, when you care so much, you hang out in hallways and kitchen chairs and the backseat of cars or in the rows of a garden that woman you love keeps turning, even while she still weeps. In a world of light, her tears burn right through you, hot and heavy and black as coal, until both of you, the bodied and disembodied, stand blinded in some spot in between. She keens, on her knees pulling weeds, ripping them up by the roots, stripping the ground bare, until it rolls out before her blank and dark. And, girl, let me tell you, it breaks your heart, to stand on the edge of eternity and think that this is what you've done to her, to them, the ones you love who stay behind, back there in time, by leaving. You want to pick her up from the ground, wipe the muddy tears from her face, and shout, I am here—I am here to stay!. But you're not. You're gone, and she's alone, in the garden, with a ghost who only wants her to live, to love, to go on in that bright clear day, believing.



Ghost Says Jungle

and nothing else. Just Jungle. I lean in and wait, for what else he might have to say. Outside there is the
rumble of some Virginia boy's oversize truck chewing up the asphalt on our narrow dark country road.
Is that the jungle you mean? I ask. Ghost appears by the window, facing out into the night. I look,
expecting him to have a reflection. The glass is clear, and black. No reflection that I can see.

All hearts are jungle creatures, Ghost says. Can't you hear them screaming in the trees?


Mary Carroll-Hackett is the author of The Real Politics of Lipstick (Slipstream 2010),  Animal Soul (Kattywompus Press 2013), If We Could Know Our Bones (A-Minor Press 2014), The Night I Heard Everything (FutureCycle Press 2015), and Trailer Park Oracle (Kelsey Books 2015). Another collection, A Little Blood, A Little Rain, is forthcoming from FutureCycle Press in 2016. She teaches at Longwood University, and with the MFA faculty at West Virginia Wesleyan. Mary is at work on a grief memoir.

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