Friday, May 24, 2019

Poem: Haunting My Husband

I discovered this poem recently, in an online workshop that focuses upon “Haunting Poetry.”

Toni Clark wrote this delightful and surprising poem.

I love poems that manage to keep the reader guessing. This one does that and more.

This is one the reader can savor as it unfolds---

Haunting My Husband

Nothing much has changed.
He looks right through me,
doesn’t hear a word
I say, forgets all
my instructions: where
we keep the strainer,
how to fold the sheets.

I trail him room to room,
like our old hound dog,
waiting for welcome-
come here, old girl-
careful to walk
around furniture
I now could well pass
through, wondering
what trick to try next

He may lift his head,
as though sensing
a barometric shift,
a thickening of air,
but it’s always nothing.
He shrugs, carries
his empty cup to the sink.
I still wrap myself
around him, rubbing
my cheek against his
stubby morning face,
can almost feel
the scrape of whiskers.

And sometimes at night,
dazed by dream, he still
reaches out to me,
before I resolve
into my true form:
a lingering memory.

I’d rattle dishes,
flick lights on and off,
whoosh past his ear
if I thought there were
a ghost of a chance
he’d notice.

Surprise-- this poem is told from the point of view of a wife’s ghost. The entire poem masterfully hints at this in both subtle and not so subtle ways.

Clark’s imagery often drops satirical hints, “looks right through me,” and “lingering memory.”

Her ghost finds delight in what she can do without a physical body. But she misses the old comfortable ways—moving carefully around the furniture.

Toni Clark
Clark’s poem also reflects the relationship this couple shares.

Humorously, her husband exasperates her as much in death as he did while she lived.

The imagery Clark uses conveys how much they miss each other—he reaches out for her, she rubs herself against him as he sleeps.

Finally, this wife admits even if she tries to get her husbands’ attention with traditional scare tactics, rattling and whooshing, she will not have “a ghost of a chance” --- nice use of humor and irony.

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