Jenna Coburn

if you have ghosts (you have everything)

i never met my grandfather till today—

he dies in 1975

and today he was born

at the bottom of a drawer in the kitchen,

his coffin and crib:

he is swaddled in moth-eaten dish towels

by a nameless undertaker

or perhaps the autophagic author himself

his crib and coffin:

he was buried a lifetime,

deaf to my own cacophonous et cetera

amidst cardboard boxes

he arises, stretches

and sits on our couch, transparent and whispering

his earliest recollections in ink from distant trenches:

he eats sliced-up milky way bars,

listens to little orphan annie and the manhattan rainstorms

as they flood his empty pillowcase;

my earliest recollection is a blank notebook,

never happened,

didn’t fall from the sky till three-quarters of a century later,

in drops of impossible invisible ink

in 1934 i smell decades-old storms,

tobacco smoked by children

and today he tastes dough

from hands of women he could have loved

together we break toys, apologize to our ghosts

listen to drops on macadam phantoms.

we think tonight was cloudy.

we left identical sleigh tracks in identical snow

laughed identical laughs whose echoes and imprints

are separated only by city and by many, many newspapers.

we remembered the same sun,

the same rain and lightning

and we both wrote that we might be heard over the century’s thunder

but stopped, hid, tired, retired—

shaking hands

halfway to tomorrow,

never touching—

two strange strangers

left sleepless and motionless in the same notebooks,

the same house:

in the same cradles and the same coffins.

Jenna Coburn is a senior psychology major and English minor at SUNY Geneseo. She is from the Hudson Valley where she enjoys caring for her cacti, doodling, writing poems, and annoying her family via the guitar. This is her first published work.