Poetry / March 2014 (Issue 23)

Ghost Husband

by Renée M. Schell

Uncountable miles away your cells undergo
respiration in the air of a land I do not know.

Strange tones, alien vowels ring
in your ears like wood striking bronze.

New words permeate your dreams but I hear only
fragments like “garlic sauce” or “rice paper.”

You inhabit another cityscape now: pagodas,
inscrutable black marks on neon signs. Roasted scorpion.

The music of its pretty women tapping their heels
along crowded sidewalks echoes just beyond my hearing.

Can they read in your face what I would read
were I not uncountable miles away?

Mornings I take your bottle of hot sauce, twist off the cap
and shake uncertain drops onto cooked eggs.

Pungent and sour, the scent rises.
I smell what you smell, taste what you taste.

Uncountable miles away you gaze upon a great
wall of stone and bricks, tamped earth and wood.

I stare out the kitchen window.
The neighbor’s rickety fence blocks my view.

One day soon you’ll leave behind the spicy soup,
spend some necessary time over the Pacific.

Your atoms and molecules will reappear before my eyes,
an apparition out of the western sky after

our sun sets into the same Saturday morning
you woke up to when my Friday eyes were closed

in afternoon dreams uncountable miles away.
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