THE EYE OF THE GHOST

The ghost shivers in one corner of the room

like an émigré from the moon.

You look over your shoulder

afraid it might speak.

If it speaks, you will remember.

To remember is to be a little crazy again.

The ghost remembers everything.

It has no stake in lying.

It remembers you were afraid to say no.

You stood in line with the others and cursed your luck.

The line led to the bus, the bus to the plane,

the plane to the truck, the truck to the base camp.

Rain dinged the tin roofs of hootches.

You really didn’t know where you were, or why.

The ghost wanted you dead.

It was afraid, too,

digging tunnels one cupful at a time.

In the distance the floodlights of Tay Ninh

formed an enormous eye.

Bacon shriveled in the field stoves.

Ambush patrols crouched like lizards for a kill.

You spent the dry season eluding each other

and smoked when you could.

The ghost followed you home.

It was with you when you wrecked the car

and the neighbor’s wife ran screaming into the yard.

An uncle told you:

“Let it go. Forget it. It’s 5000 miles.”

Fish in the aquarium swam oblivious to the crash

of mortars against the thin walls of daydreams.

You befriend the tree frogs and crickets again,

watched a thunderstorm blow like a twisted memory,

prayed it would carry the ghost away.

But a man meets his ghost in the hallway mirror,

brushes his teeth and locks the door.

He sleeps with a flashlight and a baseball bat.

The ghost squats in one corner of the room

waiting for the dreamer to rise and stand its post.

In its eye as it watches

from its world on the other side of the sky,

you are the ghost.

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