From a bullet train, she once saw houses on slopes
above the rice paddies—white banners of laundry hanging
______in the rain from their verandas.

But why, decades later, is she still haunted?
They weren’t her ghosts. This morning, though, she heard
______something closer, something solid fall upstairs,

its crash escaping before she could find it, uncanny, too—
wind in the curtains, all day walking through air,
______breathing it in and out, and in the light

a dark figure without mass tracking her.
She’s never alone. For all she knows, the careless force
______that dropped tulip petals around the vase

could still be here, or any moment the puppets
stored in boxes could rise on wooden joints
______to dance without their strings.

No wonder climbing the stairs at night, she is wary
the treads might creak underfoot, or a ghost-cat
______brush against her leg. She has glimpsed

a figment-motion crossing the living room—a blur
thinner than morning fog—and once, even heard
______her name called at the edge of a dream.

Then, what better proof than his empty pillow—
his presence in a scent as fugitive as the stir of motes
______from shaking out a carpet?



Jane O. Wayne