I met a ghost the other night,
When I was tired, half dreaming
Mind adrift and unmoored from the turning
Of the millstone of this world.
There was no fear, or fear of fear —
I know the dead don’t really answer
When we call them, hopeless, keening
For the undone years.
It’s just a memory: the silver mark
Of one soul upon another, in relief.
Still, on the haunted, barren streets outside
I saw him turn his back,
And come to walk with me.
His hand reached out,
Down, where I was kneeling —
I’d been grieving
A new-grown forest of the dead
Which grows taller every evening.
The cuff around his wrist,
Drab green with tattered gold brocade,
Caught my fingers as he lifted.
And I understood, and stood
To meet his gaze.
His eyes were kind.
They burned with all the fury
Of a gentle mind made witness.
And by his cap and bloodstained uniform,
His chest-wound worn like some sucking medal,
I knew him. He’d met War.
His words had mocked
The steady running of the hour,
Yet in that fell forest which no wind stirs
None passed his lips.
Those had beauty, too —
Smiled coyly, when he caught me looking.
There was beauty
In his footsteps as we walked,
And grace, and subtle meaning
In the silence of the trees.
[Oliver Keane is a writer, critic, and former copywriter with a BA in
English Literature from Queen Mary, University of London. He lives
with his husband in Chicago. These are his first published poems. You
can find more of his work at warpcorecritical.com and on Medium [link: