A Poem by Michael Goodfellow


The ghost elevated above earth, even by several feet. / The lover takes the form of an animal.  Lights on the ground indicate the movement of stars. / Tree foliage as a metaphor for the future. / A depression in the ground reveals a cellar. / Spells done with hands. / Water as a medium of disappearance. / Narrator as rock or tree. / Cleft trees may hold the dead. / Animalism as fetish. / Meadow and grasslands as sites of loss. / Non-native plants are analogues for the afterlife. / Winter as a season of hallucination, or conversely, revelation. / Past seasons framed as rooms in unidentified houses. / Shape of the limerent object carved into a certain kind of wood, then burned on the new moon preceding the winter solstice. / Knocks and other aural signs that a loved one has died at a great distance are manifestations of loss, not harbingers of the future. / Many stories happen at night but are recorded by sunlight. Those that happen by daylight are told around campfires. / Just as when the second plane hit the sky was clear. / Just as television screens lit daylit rooms. / Eeelpots, stored in the barn these many years, were known to shake when a son died in a foreign war. Even the war on terror. The war on horror. How every war is won by ghosts. That every ghost lives in a story. That every story ends with sleep. That dreams end with monsters. The lights come up before the credits end. 


Across the LaHave, fog the grain of television static. / Beneath the water, engines and dead screens dropped overboard. / The dark of a dead screen was the final dark: reflective even cracked, the shapes split open without forming a whole. The cracks hid something the bottom didn’t show. / The water flattened against our shape. / Water had been ghost, land its corpse. / You didn’t die, you were held up to drown. / Patterns in the hay on the barn floor suggest which spouse will die first. / If the ground is damp then one will remarry. / Treasure was said to sink if you spoke, as if ground were ocean. What lived beneath swam without eyes. / Just as IEDs, placed in the sand, were said to spring from the earth. / As treasure had done. / As zombies had done. As flesh rose, rotted, stone stuck with sand and grit. / A pentagram, turned upside down. Flesh before spirit. Flesh after spirit. Just compacted dirt where the coffin once stood.


The way each spring something in lilac smelled like wet stone. The drowned resurfaced. Islands were windows or doors into other rooms. That the dead returned at defined intervals. The need not to speak, upon waking, burying or digging treasure up. The four corners had other names. Rain the day or the day after. Witches take the form of a blade of straw. Disguise as ghost. Ghost as clothing tacked to a pole. Falling pictures or other downward movement as a sign of dead. A familiar sound though nothing is seen as an indication that someone has passed. That certain things continue past the point they should. A light stroke, a dull blow, shaking—all of these too are signs of an ending. Seeing an absent friend in a vision is also a sign for death; death as what happens when something is discrepant. A misfolded prion. Cells that won’t stop. Suicides buried across streams or separated by water. That the dead could not cross. Metal as a defense against the dead. To fight those they had lost.

Michael Goodfellow is the author of the poetry collection Naturalism, an Annotated Bibliography, published by Gaspereau Press, 2022, and of a collection in draft titled Folklore of Lunenburg County, which is supported by a Research & Creation Grant from the Canada Council for the Arts. His poems have appeared in the Literary Review of Canada, The Dalhousie Review, The Cortland Review, and Reliquiae. He lives in Nova Scotia.