A Ghost About Town

by Claire Huxham


In the airport I stopped all the clocks
and made an old man cry.
I had to do it eventually.  Live the dream.
They say a spectre’s haunting Europe –
well, I can tell you it’s not just one,
it’s a whole circus troop of them.
All chains that rattle and screams at night.
We’ve always had a bad name back home.
Cursed sprite, that sort of thing.
The whole of Europe’s a cliché; a haunted house
where religion and history stalk the halls
shaking their gory locks.
I don’t miss it, the Old World
with its cruel superstitions, the garlic hanging
at the window.  Here the dead don’t
crowd the streets and there’s hardly any litter.
Only once, a Comanche woman nursing
a burnt child at her bloody breast.
She slipped
around the corner of the cinema,
scalps fluttering behind her like confetti.
Here, I can be who I want to be,
a ghost about town - I can reinvent myself
like the Madonna.
O America.
I’m an open road, an empty sign,
I’m a blank cipher.
I scribble a few words on a postcard
back to the Old Country
but my pen leaves
no mark.