Midwife to spirits, you call for water,
circle the chairs, position the planchette,
your fingers soft on old mahogany.
The grace of touch – oh, how we dead mourn that!
Even the nurse’s press on a cooling wrist,
the last gauging of a disappearance.
For all our half-heard noises, projections
flitting in shadowed stairwells, feather-slight
through spiral sunbeams in dust-mote hallways;
for all our flung plates and ventriloquy
ejected through startled mediums’ mouths,
what we long for most is simply to touch –
to lay vaporous hands on blooded skin,
to thrill to the beat of an urgent heart,
another life moving from now to then.
Such loving lost to us, trapped in limbo.
So we come, extending hands of cold air
and petrified longing, not to haunt folk
but to hug them when they’re sleeping, to wreathe
around them, slippery as the promise
of after-life, to run dry ice fingers
through earthy breath, to lie like arctic shrouds
on recumbent dreamers, troubled by their
temporary hurts and common desires,
so human, so finite, so visceral.