The Ghost in the Screen
(for Randall Jarrell, Richard Hugo, Sharat Chandra, Rainer Maria
Rilke, David Wagoner, and Mike Forette)
Every time I see that ghost movie with Dan Akroyd
he talks of Camp Waconda where he went as a kid,
and I know the real Waconda Orchards where
Chicago kids came Northwest to pick apples in the fall,
where there were a few campfires and no overnights,
as far as I knew, but what did I know,
I just went there south and west of Waukegan
to pick up checks and copy for radio stations
to feed my kids 9 hours away in another life.
And the campfire burns tonight in my memory
of Ghost Canyon Ranch and the Engbergs
of Hermosa, ghosts again and real as you and me
sitting on logs singing songs in the dark,
waiting for the flashlight wars and stalking
through the breaks in rock called The Catruns.
I'm buying candy in the afternoon
after a long ride on a horse named Betsy.
When, by accident, her salty sweat touches my lips.
And tonight the new campfire burns smokeless
where I read poems to my mother as we sat warm
and covered with blankets searching the universe
for memories on a glowing screen
typing the names of remembered friends
searching for some word from the past
that would remind us of this moment we have had,
again watching the stars fall to earth like one November,
speaking in the poets voice a few words for our sponsors.
Clearly we see these words as I speak them loudly
across the years between my mother and me
and she asks if I wrote them and I would repeat
what old Hugo said to me in a youth-filled workshop:
“Every great poem is one you wrote anyway,”,
but if I told her yes I wouldn't be telling the truth,
and if I said no I didn't, I'd be lying.
And so goes Rilke's Buddha skipping across
the campfire now at the tips of my fingers.
Copyright © 2010 by Barry G. Wick