Invisible Me

 

after Paul Kelly

 

1.

 

Afterwards I wear the same clothes

for days, one sleeve torn from shoulder

to cuff and flapping like a scarf of old skin.

A friend I’ve never met is holding my hand

and we are looking back at what I’ve left:

some sleepy reunion on a hill heavy

with wild grass, a lone pine casting its net of shade,

a short picket fence. I watch you drop a daisy

in the grave. My brother has his arms around

my sister, his face pressed against her hair.

And of course my mother is there,

a garden spade in one hand, the other in yours.

My friend hurries me toward a stand of black oaks—

we pass through chaparral and sagebrush, a patch

of poppies in an open field; they’re glowing

in the evening air, orange petals tipped with gold.

 

2.

 

Later I’m alone, flying above houses, the turquoise

swimming pools, dark lawns. I drift through

an open window and float above our bed.

It’s your shape there below me, wearing a shirt

I left in the hamper. You keep to one side

as if I’m there, and though the curtains flutter

in my wake, I’m just a draft, invisible as air.

You pull the sheet tight to your chin as I circle

close to the ceiling, the dust lifting

from the lampshade, the doilies on the bureau

rustling beneath framed photographs.

And when I leave, the curtains follow me out

the window, empty nightgowns

forgotten by the ghosts who used to wear them.

I pause there above the hedgerow.

I tuck the curtains back into the room.

About James Harms:

James Harms is the author of seven books of poetry including Comet Scar, to be published by Carnegie Mellon University Press in 2011. He is a recipient of an nea fellowship, the pen/Revson fellowship, and three Pushcart Prizes, among other honors. A Professor of English at West Virginia University, he also directs the low-residency mfa program in poetry at New England College.