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half moon

A ghost of ages
never wholly past
plays host to holy
wanderers in rags,
invites us in to dine
amidst the din
of politics that rage
across the land
and says: Be welcome,
friends, to this abode
where quiet reigns
and future
ghosts await.

Leave your beliefs
outside the door.
I cannot stress this
overly, especially
those you claim to
not believe. The mud
of negativity occludes,
turns feet, then lips
and loin and finally the
mind to clay. Behold
these shelves!

We turn, a motley lot,
to look at niches
big enough to hold
a man. Among them
crouches one, though
handsome, he is nude
as if ashamed, and flaking.
Ghost of ages flicks a
chip of clay from off
the statue’s knee. This
man holds true to what
he’s lost—the zeros in
his bank account, the
light in his wife’s eyes,
and all he stands to gain
ignores, refuses coming
ease—the ease that many
like him push ahead and
call it death or paradise—
so now he squats in stalls
of grim philosophy,
decrying all that moves.

“He looks so alone,
poor thing,” I say.

The ghost of ages turns
to me. His irises are pearly
gray half moons that float
as if in mercury.

The dining room—
a chill creeps o’er my
bones—is this way.

We’re seated at a table
long enough to give
impressions of a rail
line that never ends.
I’m four seats from
the host and to his left.
Embarrassed by my
tattered lace, I hide
my sleeves beneath
a rich brocade of
gold and burgundy.

To be convinced
of poverty is bad
the ghost
remarks. A woman
at his right looks up
and drops her spoon.
A spray of soup, of
rosemary and lamb
hangs in the air, a
fountain vascular
and fragrant that’s
forgotten, or is not
allowed to fall.

To pound at others
with a club of deprivation
when what you have
is this…

He spreads his arms
and all of us look down
the endless table heaped
with pyramids of fruit
and meat.

‘Tis meet that we
should gather here
this week that leads
to Hallowed Eve—

Somebody gasps.
I look around, and one
by one—how shall I put
this in a way that does
not terrify? Successive
blinks, yet all at once,
the chairs, once filled
with ordinary folk like
me, transform to seats
unoccupied until the only
beings in the room are
a woman, man and
child, host and me.

to be continued…

© Elaine Stirling, 2013
The beautiful moon image comes
from the Royal Astronomical Society
of Canada–Okanagan Centre.