Ghosts- A Poem by Sapphire
There are thirteen windows in this room.
I see the tops of trees and sky, my parents
run thru my mind; my father
scurrying like a mouse. My mother is sitting. Why have I come
here, and what do their ghosts
want with me. I know I’m not writing poetry
but trying to build a bridge back to poetry.
I will go home to a hot stuffy room.
I have lived with their ghosts.
The black haired mother, her parents
on her back. We had, all but one, come
to bury her twelve years ago. My father
died at seventy-five, a stroke, my father
myself? Or me, myself—where is poetry,
the feeling I used to have, will it come
in the middle of exercises? Finally I have a room
with windows. Finally my parents
are dead, are ghosts.
How they beat me, left me, laughed at me, are ghosts.
I see him frozen, hurrying, in a picture, my father.
I seldom saw my parents
together. My mother never mentioned my father’s poetry.
I found it after he died. I was in his room
before his funeral. I had come
from New York to bury this father, come
to throw dirt on the recovered ghosts
of memory, willing to believe as I lay down in his room
I was a liar. Then my sister says, my father
got her while she was in diapers. In his poetry
he talks of sunsets and doesn’t mention his parents.
My mother said he was ashamed of his parents.
When it is my time who will come?
I have no children except this poetry that isn’t poetry.
Our father’s penis is the ghost
we suck in our dreams. Still I miss that father,
raise him from photographs to come sit in my room.
Here at the writers‘ colony I attempt poetry in a room.
I see my mother and father at the top of the sky. My parents
have come here, home, to help me, ghosts.
Sapphire is the author of two bestselling novels, Push and The Kid. Push was made into the major motion film Precious, which received the Academy Award for Best Screenplay and Best Supporting Actress. Sapphire’s work has been translated into thirteen languages and has been adapted for stage in the United States and Europe. Her poetry, fiction, and essays have appeared in The Black Scholar, The New York Times Magazine, The New York Times Book Review, The Teacher’s Voice, The New Yorker, Spin, and Bomb.