-for Michele and Kristen
I was mistaken for dead for a couple hours
by some old friends.
They wrote me to tell me they cried.
But during that time, when I was thought a phantom,
I floated through Sunset Park
whispering in the ears of the Mexican’s selling empanadas.
They understood me because everyone speaks the language of the dead.
I teased the Chinese kids on 8th Avenue who ignored me
because ghost or no ghost
the number 8 is still lucky.
I possessed the old Russian women down by the ocean,
who crossed themselves and hid in the church begging for Jesus.
And I did a high wire act, across the thick cables of the Brooklyn bridge.
These are the kinds of things you can get away with when you are dead.
I even haunted you, as you wondered mid-town wondering
whatever happened to that girl you used to know.
But when I wrote them back
to tell them to dry their tears,
that I was still in fact pumping blood
and bloated lungs, that I was still dividing cells
and mostly water,
I fell back to earth, with an astonishing crack.
This is what death can be like.
You can vanish, go invisible, and not even know it.
Take advantage of that time, if you are so lucky,
the city will open her secrets for you,
and let you linger in the darkest corners of Brooklyn.
Ghosts don’t have to worry about fear or chain locks.
Ghosts can pass right through
your walls and sit across from you,
watching you fall apart.
That’s what I did.
And you never even noticed.