Ghost Letter

Tonight the Chinese lanterns along the dock could lead your ghost to water;
the departing ones need light, for their sight has already dimmed.

As for me: I'm sitting at the edge of the old canal,
whispering this ghost letter, staring at the moon. Dear friend:

There is no one pitiable in this life. No "pitiful abundance."
If you saw back into this world, you would see me by the hydrangeas

still trained to the chain-link fence, where you first took my photo.
If you have the inclination to look back, that is; if the dead

are changeless; if the gravesite is something other than a way of having,
in the end. When you were dying, the hospital chaplain stood in the doorway:

she said we should be tending to your immediate journey; she said
we should take turns sleeping; she said the room was too cold for words.

And someone told her: Quiet! Don't you know the dead go on hearing for hours?
What might I have said? I'd made so many promises. According to one book

I'd consulted, the autumn fields were set afire after harvest, to warm
pp the dying, as they rose.

From GHOST LETTERS (Alice James Books, 1994)


Poems by Richard McCann

Excerpt of Nights of 1990

Third Premonition: rue des Petits Hôtels

Ghost Letter