Panicked, I reach
For the pounamu necklace
And now mine.
As you once were.
The cord has twisted too tight
And my hands,
Scrabble to get loose
From suffocating bedclothes
To pull it free.
I think again of my colleague asking
Were there claw marks at his neck?
Clinical and measured.
As though the question were normal
As though I had not thought it
Already a thousand times
As though knowing
Would make a difference.
Note: ‘Pounamu’ is the traditional name for greenstone in New Zealand. It is highly prized in Māori culture and often used in carvings.
THE GHOST UPSTAIRS
She is always there
Just below the surface of my mind
She watches me gardening sometimes
Peering out of the old bubbled glass
Of the upstairs bedrooms.
Panes that have thickened
At the bottom like an old lady’s legs.
She introduced herself one night.
Treading softly up the stairs, each step a slow wheeze
A loosening of her corset
A regaining of breath.
She sat on my bed
Sideways as though sitting on a horse
Like a lady.
Both of us avoided eye contact.
With the dent of the bedcovers
I felt her disappointment in me
The oppressive feeling
Like a firm hand pressed on my forehead as though I sickened.
Usually, though the ghost is furious
And fulminates against a world closed off to her.
Where she no longer belongs
Although once the house was hers and her signature remains.
A beautiful elegant cursive reminder of it all
Hidden behind a cupboard door.
Death has brought her a new freedom
She throws herself against walls
Hurtles through the upstairs bedrooms startling the guests.
Once she stood over me as I lay in terror
Still not looking.
She rocked me vigorously backwards and forwards
As though I were errant dough
Not quite the right consistency.
During the day, the ghost skulks hostile under beds.
Making up the beds
I imagine her hands reaching towards my ankles
To pull me under
To suck me into her world
Sometimes it is a struggle to resist.