michael h. stewart | Stories

Concerning Ghosts

Love to be forgotten and counted as nothing; it is the advice of Saint John of the Cross, it is the counsel of the Imitation of Christ: speak seldom either well or ill of yourself, but seek by silence to make yourself forgotten.

—Cardinal Desire Mercier (1851-1926)

My ghosts move as trees age. With a certainty that is so slow it is all but invisible. A movement of least resistance. And if they speak we do not have the patience to hear them; their articulation extends past our comprehension.

They have just enough weight to linger. Settle with the thickness of dew and leave little impression—as little as fragrance.

They are tethered to perfect things. They are insistent. With the proper application of heat they may be induced to glow.

Like a woman’s thin dress, they dissolve in too strong a light.

Where they linger, they stain and are capable of such strange sympathy.