susan chast

The Life of Ghosts

Grandmother held no opinions of death.
She had stories instead, and the best was
her driving on 9-W Highway
from Albany to home when her eyes closed
and her deceased husband called Maria!
She heard My little Maria, wake, wake!
and she did. She experienced real truths.

I won’t be cremated, she insisted,
and you yourself should not! The cremated
do. not. have. visiting. power.
She knew.
I have no doubt. Hadn’t she been in once a
Queen of a Castle, charged with rule while King
was out? Didn’t she know the names of wild
mushrooms that could beguile a hungry child?

Self Portrait

I drew myself with pale and hollow cheeks
but they filled out once I paid attention.

The awkward posture, too, changed as soon as
it noticed me watching and thinking hard.

My skeleton started to do its job
as if it didn’t like being ignored.

Making a self-portrait enlivened and
rejuvenated every part involved.

Amazed, I determined to draw myself
once a year for as long as I shall live.

I put a ring on my finger, golden
symbol of my promise to be mindful.

The portrait applauded and drew me, too
as if it mirrored what inside I knew.

Future Farming

Like learning wood and weave and waves
    as carpenters, weavers and beauticians,
    like mechanics knowing engines
    and doctors, butchers and masseuse
    engaging body parts—

Scholars dig deep
    in our own fields to know it all
    and plant new seeds that advance crops
    and ex press needs.

High school teachers
    cultivate their students to find
    the ones that will take root in time
    and bloom in field work and its play
    speaking its vocabulary,
    wielding the tools currently used,
    knowing enough to break the rules.

A new writer after 40+ years as teacher and stage director, Susan Chast lives in Philadelphia, PA, where she delights in the unexpected gift of time. Her work appears in Tuck Magazine, Types and Shadows and The dVerse Anthology; and it can be read online at her blog.

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