What is he called

And how old is he?

I spoke to the man with a gun and a dog

About to use the first on the second 

I don’t know he’s your dog now he said

Call him Spot or Patch or whatever you want

And he handed me the dog

Through the window of his truck

And drove away

And the dog had neither collar nor lead

But he wagged his tail

And I put him in my bus

And I called him Spot

And I told him that things would be just fine

And he was fine

Although he had a burn on his neck

From a collar which had given him electric shocks

But still he wagged his tail

And walked beside me

And ran to me if he was afraid

And he dug holes

And ate rabbit droppings

And snow and things which looked edible

And things which did not

And he looked to me for protection 

And wagged his tail.

He slept on my bed

And then slept in my bed

Under the covers

Where he farted and snored

And warmed the back of my knees

And my heart

And his head rested on my arm

Or over my stomach

And his head was silky as my hand brushed the dome of his skull

And his eyes were brown

And filled with love

As he wagged his tail.

And he grew tired and ill

And I gave him cheese and treats and love

As I had so much to spare from that

Which he gave to me

And I put on his coat

And he climbed into the car

And we drove to the vet

Where I said goodbye

And he wagged his tail

Looking at me

Trusting me

As the vet set him free

He wagged his tail

He wagged his tail.



When we first met I was still a ghost.

I expected nothing from the meeting. I thought I might briefly drift into your field of vision, startling you perhaps before disappearing like a dream. Ghostly encounters can be uncomfortable but are soon forgotten, after all. 

We sat. I remembered how to be real and we joked and talked and even drank tea together, but soon it was time for me to be a ghost again and I left, supposing that I would be instantly expunged from your memory.

I was surprised when you summoned me back from the wispy fragment of the dream which I was inhabiting. I came cautiously but gladly, becoming corporeal once more and staying a little while, revelling in the wholeness of your vision, enjoying the sun warmed laughter. When I left this time, I smiled but still determined to leave the memory behind. Memories hurt ghosts. 

Being a ghost is not unpleasant. It can be lonely circling the periphery of consciousness but when I was real I was often lonely too, even though I might be surrounded by other people. When you are a ghost there are no expectations, either from the real people or from yourself.

You conjured me again and again. Each time I became a little more solid, each time it became harder for me to revert to being a ghost. Each time I fully expected for you to forget me, to spend your time with real people, even as I found it more difficult to return to my otherworld. It seemed though, that you did not realise that I was a ghost. 

The fact that you could see me brought solidity to my life but also anxiety. I was not sure that I wanted to become real again, but slowly, slowly; I could feel my bones, my muscles, the air in my lungs, my blood and skin and hair and nails. All of me, becoming.

It was an adventure this new life and I determined to enjoy it but to not take it seriously. In spite of this though I became reliant on your validation; I had after all learned to look at myself through your eyes.

Once I was no longer a ghost though you stopped looking for me, at me. Your interest waned, your eyes glazing over when I was in front of you, and you started to glance away, to the lives of the other real people. My newly found confidence began once more to fray at the corners and I noticed the unraveling, even fighting against it.

I began once more to haunt the shadows, to pursue my solitary wandering, and before I knew it, I was a ghost again.

I glance at a mirror and see only an empty room reflected back at me.

Now you have started to conjure me once more, to call me from the gloaming, but I am reluctant to leave the warmth of nothingness these days. I answer if called but I do not become fully real, and I avoid looking too carefully at the trinkets you show me. I carefully present to you a facsimile of what you think I am. My edges are no longer defined, my boundaries are amorphous, ephemeral.

Your reality is not mine; you show me your joy and I am happy for you. I am glad that you hold something in your life which matters to you as I once thought that I mattered.

You are a jewel shining brightly. I am drawn to your coruscating brilliance, but it is a cold fire and will not warm my transparent flesh nor will it quicken this homeless heart. I will keep a safe distance; not dreaming, not being, and while your sun shines elsewhere I will gratefully accept the night as I once longed for the day.