In a Landscape: II

By John Gallaher John Gallaher
“Ghosts are people who think they’re ghosts,”
my daughter Natalie said, starting off the period
we will refer to later as A Little Bit Further Along. Since then
(which was last night, November 3rd, 2009), I’ve been thinking
about where I am more, as a kind of goal,
and somewhat less about where I’m not. It’s a pleasure to be
where one is, given that someone
isn’t somewhere lethal. This is Pleasure One.

And now this is Pleasure Two, thinking about it,
so that this place, which was Place One, and a pleasure,
as we were there where we were and it was not a lethal place,
but a place where we were, is now this place again
as we’re here thinking about it, like America or a popsicle.
“Open the house and the house is empty,” Natalie also said, meaning
her dollhouse, as she’s seven, but when she said it, I had this
vision of all of us suddenly disappearing, maybe thinking
ourselves ghosts, even, or getting somewhere, out
and around her bedroom and then down the hall and stairs.

I’ll tell you how it happened. Natalie and I were looking out the window
at the backyard, and she asked me if I liked our house. It’s a theme
with her. The other night she asked me if I liked life. I said, “Yeah,
a lot.” And she looked at me a second and then said, “Me too.”
You don’t hear that every day, I think, until the accumulations
begin to remind me of every day: Carla, who donated a kidney
to her brother-in-law (Robin’s uncle), has just been diagnosed
with cancer, two months later. She sends hopeful updates
from the hospital, on Facebook. Like fountains, the footnotes
go on. My footnote or yours. The big questions can’t be decided
in this way. They demand coins or laws. And this is
much too important to be a big question.

Source: Poetry (June 2014).


This poem originally appeared in the June 2014 issue of Poetry magazine

June 2014
 John  Gallaher


John Gallaher is the author of, most recently, Your Father on the Train of Ghosts with G.C. Waldrep (2011) and In a Landscape (2014), both from BOA Editions.

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Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Living, Life Choices, Parenthood

Poetic Terms Free Verse

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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