Poetry | January 07, 2022
6 Poems by Rebecca Lehmann
What specter? This baby’s love?
An extinct animal? Keats’s ghastly
prismatic ghost-hand reaching
beyond the grave? My stepmother’s
grandmother, now blind, head throbbing
as she labors to breathe, mouths
commands to voice-recognition software.
She just wants to see her family,
and not through glass,
and maybe not ever again.
A nurse spoon-feeds her supper,
helps her to the bathroom,
tries to practice kindness through
her mask and plastic visor,
through her taped-on gown and gloves.
What specter? What eidolon?
What phantom? At night we watch
an actress dressed up as a princess
dressed up as Christine singing
“All I Ask of You” to her ghoulish
menacing husband who hates her.
She’ll be a ghost in the next season,
when her car phantoms into the wall
of a Parisian tunnel in the spectral night.
We watch the fog sink in the graveyard
behind our house. In October
I walk through the back part
where the oldest graves are,
along the river, crying and snapping
morbid pictures of all the stones
that read Baby, Baby, Our Beloved Babies,
Mother & Baby, Our Beloved Infant Daughter,
Our Beloved Infant Son. How many graves
are from 1919, 1920, the last pandemic?
I weep on a stone bench, go home
over their luminescence. There,
in the corner of mine eye, a ghost
go-eth, curly haired, noose around
his neck, shaking his fist in my direction,
whispering Dumb bitch. In November
the deaths top a quarter of a million.
In December we lose and lose.
I run through the graveyard. What loose
pebbles slide beneath my athletic shoes?
What pointed leafless boughs snag
the bitter wind? What ghost? What specter?
What phantom? What fog? What
creeping miasma, come to carry
us Lethe-wards, come to sink and sink?
If you are a student, faculty member, or staff member at an institution whose library subscribes to Project Muse, you can read this piece and the full archives of the Missouri Review for free. Check this list to see if your library is a Project Muse subscriber.
Want to read more?Subscribe Today
SEE THE ISSUE
May 17 2022
You Will Be Ready / Total Hysterectomy There will be days in this medical experience when you feel like you’re the only citizen of Pluto, landed right in the
May 16 2022
Tree of Life Translated from the Slovenian by Brian Henry I was born in a field of grain and snapped my fingers. White chalk crossed the green blackboard. Dew
May 16 2022
Counterweight In the fall, the garden folds in on itself—grand stalk of kale on the ground like a wilted chandelier, still green tomatoes that missed their chance at red