The Ghost Marriage

Even these days, dusting the piano
while the icebox hums smoothly in the afternoon,
you find your ghost husband
sleeping on the sofa,
a lanky drink of bourbon in the old brown suit
he rolled out of bed in
both your lifetimes ago.
He touches the keys
to the tune in your memory,
leaves the scent of snapdragons and bleeding hearts
in the clean pile of the carpet.
He winks in the clink of ice
in a fizzing Coke.
In that genteel underworld
of black ties and off–the–shoulder diamonds,
you played detectives
against your hearts,
won and paid the forfeit of these sunny, quiet days
while the man you became a stranger to save
gets ahead at the office,
comes home smiling at six to the wife
he owes more than the newest make of car.
While you straighten the sheet music,
he folds his arms against your kitchen wall,
the musician who followed his wife across the dark river
when you drew the shade of lost love into the light,
his wry smile still taking it on the chin
as bravely as your bitten lipstick.
His hair spills back from his forehead
like an upset glass,
his mouth never touched your mouth
or his hands your throat.
Just once more, you would reach out
to wake him,
startled to life as suddenly as a heart.

Sonya Taaffe

Sonya Taaffe’s short fiction and poetry can be found in the collections Ghost Signs (Aqueduct Press), A Mayse–Bikhl (Papaveria Press), Postcards from the Province of Hyphens (Prime Books), and Singing Innocence and Experience (Prime Books), and in various anthologies including Spelling the Hours: Poetry Celebrating the Forgotten Others of Science and Technology, An Alphabet of Embers: An Anthology of Unclassifiables, and Dreams from the Witch House: Female Voices of Lovecraftian Horror. She is currently senior poetry editor at Strange Horizons; she holds master’s degrees in Classics from Brandeis and Yale and once named a Kuiper belt object. She lives in Somerville with her husband and two cats.

Photo Credit: Rob Noyes

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