At Home With Hungry Ghosts

Haunted and hunted by what ifs and if onlys.

They hide in the corners, scurry by in the dark, linger in doorframes at night.
They show themselves in the bright morning, as I drink creamy coffee from a pink-patterned cup.
Under the frail light of the half moon, they frolic until I glance their way.
They are without shame.
They creep along in the shadows, then reveal themselves in an imperfect patch of sunshine, lazy, stretching.

Ridding myself of them seems impossible.
They are embedded.
They are comfortable.
They are at home.
They are home.
They sneer and confront, they cling, they show up when least invited.
They taunt, beg, whisper, caterwaul until acknowledged.
They sit in inky blackness, sharing a laugh with one another.

In bed at night, they lie beside me, on top of me, all over me.
Just smother me already and get it over with, I suggest.
But they look hurt, troubled, as if I misunderstand, as if I’m the one calling them.
They protest without apology.

In the day, in the car, on the couch, in the yard
they wait.
I drink red wine, I meditate, I think, unsuccessfully, about other things.
They wait.
I sleep, I nap, I dream.
They wait.
I ruminate, the worst of all.
They wait.
Open my eyes, hope they are gone and yet still
they wait.

They saved me a spot
right here.
They’ve set the place, laid out the good china.
They’ve fixed me a plate.
Here, here, they say, pulling out a chair.

I’m never without them.
They’re right there,
on my heels, on my back, on my shoulders, behind my eyes,
staring back at me from the reflection.
Stalking me from inside, focused, relentless.

Can’t shake them.

If I could go back, I’d change it all.
I’d change everything.
Every. Last. Thing.

Maybe then, I’d be free.

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