I first saw ghosts in my father's dark room
emerging at the speed of light, smiling faintly;
some still living but speaking slowly from a time before;
their lips blurred around the sense of words,
but I caught their drift. When I first heard
these voices I didn't see a commercial use
felt persecuted. I blinked and there they were
as constant as the direct sun.
I'd never heard it called a gift or curse
or knew it made a dollar. Worse
my father soon cottoned on. Then came the parlour
with its purple drapes and incense,
the sticky-backed tarot that made no sense,
abstract as art to me, the sweaty hands
I read as maps to fame and wedding bands,
all lies. At night the ghosts still came
from the space behind my bed, their language
a breeze against my neck, a finger down my spine,
rifling through my hair and raising bumps on my skin.
Guarded by angels, marked by sin,
whatever they called it, I was never lonely.
I was never helpful either, to those in mourning.
Then, the ghosts neglected me, left me empty
as a shell. I gave out clever platitudes. I was not sorry
am not sorry
to be a cheat.
The ghosts were only ever meant for me.