by Jean Cassidy

Their presence is a faint breeze with no obvious origin,
a stirring of hair when some thing brushes your cheek,
touches your face and the once empty space
begins to feel occupied (especially when they arrive en masse),
and you notice in their open hands
tools of their former lives, a spatula, iPad, a paint brush—
ordinary things

for ghosts are not slimy, salacious specters,
not seething and sadistic as we've been led to believe,
nor are they callous or creepy, and they don't lurk on haunches waiting to cudgel,
moreover they don't have what it takes to be sebaceous or contagious,
and are not caught in putrid wormwood—they gave that up centuries ago,
related as they are to the vampire (eighteen or more generations removed),
cousins by marriage only, no DNA trace,

and contrary to what you've been told, they’re not saturnine, savage or sneaky,
but spineless, of course, corporeal carriage removed, they have been taken out
of mortal context, so they do not have henna hair,
but if you must visualize them with hair choose a style that's fly-away,

for ghosts arrive with no clattered chains,
no sirens’ screech,
they announce
in a whisper.

Jean Cassidy was born in Chicago. She graduated from the University of Michigan as a clinical social worker and community organizer. Since 2005, she has served as managing editor for Sheville, the women’s Internet magazine of Western North Carolina. She and her partner, Va Boyle, relocated to Asheville in 1995.

About Arrival—Composed of one long sentence, this poem took form as stream of consciousness, turning into a rather strange and unexpected product that travelled where it would of its own accord. The conclusion in the final two lines was a bit of a surprise!