James Aitchison

Household Ghosts

If you asked me, I’d say this house has no ghosts.
And yet two or three times a year
a thud on the bedroom window jolts me awake.

I switch on the bedside table light –
Nothing. No one. The curtains are undisturbed.

I know my brain plays tricks on my dreaming mind,
but the sensation, the abrupt awakening,
feels too extraneous to be a dream.

Is the wakening jolt
an extra-early morning wake-up call
from a barren little segment of my brain
that wants my mind to dream about these rooms
and make promises to household ghosts?

Nothing. No one. I switch off the light
and curl again into my sleep-shape self.

Their Names

Even then those six women’s names
couldn’t have matched their faces
or their sitting, standing, walking body-shapes.

He spent so little time with each of them
he never found out who they really were,
and yet he remembers their names.

In reverse order, from first to last, they are
Ellyse Ancund, Anjano Pwello, Njeta Hessdil,
Luija Denord, Nussa Tewleth, Sabilela Mandaso.

He heard from a friend of a friend when he still had friends
that one of the women was dead.

And the others?
The edges and curves of their faces might already be blurred
and boneless beneath their withered frost-bitten skin.
They’ll have purple half-moons beneath their eyes,
little vertical lines on their upper lips,
double chins, dewlaps?

He’s just found two of the women on Google Chrome:
Ellyse Ancund and Anjano Pwello.
No bags or folds or shrinkages,
but he doesn’t know when the photographs were taken:
the older the photograph the younger the face.

The women’s names don’t match their photographs.

James Aitchison © 2017