Volume 3 Number 1


Winter 2004

Summer Ghosts

M.C.A. Hogarth

I am Autumn's Woman, but I hunt for summer ghosts.

I check the fortress, ringed in stone
where once we sat together, perched on top of the world
and seeing only one another--
--but the fortress is merely a concrete landing. I do not
see you there, buying a Mountain Dew from a battered machine, your bookbag slouching at your side.

I check the Dreaming Tree, where once we faced one another
on cool stone, dappled in green leaf shadows, skin glowing
in the heat--
--but the Dreaming Tree is merely another live oak, and you
are not waiting for me on the wire-mesh bench. There is litter on the sidewalk where we used to muse.

I check the palace courtyard, where you scried your future
once with water's quicksilver magic, at the fountain-side-- --but they've changed the middle of the administration building, and there are flowers where there used to be water, and everything is different.

Everything is wrong.

Everywhere I go, I seek your ghost. I see copper curls in parking lots and lose a breath. I see a familiar swing of hip across a field and my spirit quickens. I buy a mint and find my hand grasping two: one for me and one for you.

That was before the pomegranate seeds.

That was before you died and left only a soul-shaped footnote, an echo of a smothered laugh in the book-scented stacks in the old, brick library.

I asked you why you chose the underworld, and you said
that at least Hades cared enough to shackle you. I suppose my shackles were not strong enough.

The summer's wind passed over your wrists and left no mark.
The gifts of the harvest ripened, but you waved them off and cited stomach problems. My heart you left on the classroom seat, in front of the blackboard where we first met. I brushed it off and offered it to you again, but you had already hitched your backpack over one thin shoulder, tossed your bag in the backseat . . . left for good.

You're gone, gone completely. So why am I still here?

Oh, Persephone, how the gods laugh. You say I left you,
but I'm the one above the earth, still walking, still searching, still trying to fill the hole you left in the world.