Ghost Stories

Caroline Neel


As a child I was unafraid of thunder,
spiders, high tree branches, scraped knees,
the imps and fairies who bartered my loose teeth for coins.

I was scared of nothing I could taste,
chewing the sweet ends of grass blades,
sticking bloody fingers in my mouth,
knowing even then it was what we couldn’t see that I should fear.

What I mean to say is, in some ways I was brave.

I loved Halloween, not for the candy or costumes
but for the chance to walk into a world
where people could be openly haunted.

What words do you call out to conjure
the invisible?

I can take you to the meadow
where we lay nose-blind and wreathed in sunlight.
I can tell you about the bones they found there later,
about the children who went missing on the side streets.

But I can’t put the thunder in your chest,
nor send goosebumps up your arms.
You cannot join me in the airless spaces
that exist parallel to the daylight
something sinister squeezing the air from my lungs.
There is no way to place a lump in your throat,
or chase whispers through your head.

Like any other ghost story, you have to believe me.

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PoetryJeremy Bibaud