Walking against the grain I feel
the old houses remember me,
the homely kid with glasses
who spotted a ghost in the woods
and got the town in an uproar.
No one alive can name that ghost
but the houses with their horsehair
plaster ceilings hold their ground
and the old cement sidewalks
retain the footfall of Buster White
stumbling drunk from the woods, his face
a pasty muddle. Most people
assumed I’d assumed him a ghost.
Fifty years later I’m certain
whatever I saw still lingers
where the river trips over sandstone
ledge on its way to the sea. The rain
brings out the old cement aroma
but also gives body to the ghost
stumbling beside the river
as if commemorating Buster
and all the other local drunks
I’d once hoped to emulate.