Silence haunts me. I don’t have a better way to say it. I fill my day
with music. I fill my shelves with stuff I get from surplus, or find
on the road. I pick up rocks. None of it does any good. I’m still
enveloped in silence. I want you to tell me a story. I want it
to feel real. I want there to be ghosts. I want one of those Arcadia books,
sepia-toned, common type face, boxes with space for a local picture
called John Is Haunted and It’s OK. I want a complete set
of these books, one for each state, city I’ve lived in, everyone
I’ve known. Haunted Us, like the accreditation team here this week
is haunted by hard data. They meet with faculty, ask about the pursuit
of truth, because in some document the pursuit of truth is mentioned,
and I want to respond “The Haunted Series,” because when asking,
are you thinking of the truth of fact or the truth of belief?
I say that last bit, and I feel pretty pleased with myself,
but they just nod, write in their books, and are gone.
“Were they here at all?” we might ask, as the pursuit is to be haunted
as birds rise from the trees, as what hard data our haunting takes,
how I have this copy of my birth certificate that says I was born
John Gallaher. It’s a legal truth, a haunted truth, as official history turns,
so there’s this ghost birth certificate one must search for, dig up,
if one wants to know, like how you come across vacant rooms
in the woods, especially by rivers, sometimes, haunted with odd,
random bits. Once, I came across a ruined shoebox of moldy photos.
“I will carry this into the woods,” someone thinks. Cans of beans
and bits of clothing, cereal boxes, left from our attempts at ordering
the world. I came across a car once, half submerged in a river
in Birmingham. And then the hotel I book for my “meet the birth
family” trip, I find out from my birth mother, when it was
the Multnomah County Poor Farm, is where her father died. It’s on
the list of Oregon’s Most Haunted Places, as you might expect
from an indigent hospital converted into a hotel, long hallways
to communal bathrooms, dim lighting, corners. Ghosts
would have to be blind, or mostly, I read, for their eyes
would have to interact with light in order for them to see.
It plays against the symphonic conclusions we hope for,
as they appear at the ends of hallways, tidal, motioning.
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