Ghosts Ambling Along East 46th Street

Not ever expecting to see you again,
you appeared, walking ahead. I felt like a wren.

I stayed behind, not wanting to be seen.
Your meander was monotonic as a machine.

Your khakis revealed the emptiness of your ass.
You looked sideways in a large office glass.

I couldn’t tell if you’d caught my glances.
I slowed, having had too many chances.

The thinness of your face surprised me more.
I’d never seen your cheekbones as such before.

Hadn’t those meds killed you? But you survived.
I wanted to ask if you’d felt lucky to be alive.

Past the Helmsley building, the traffic raced.
Yet years have passed: my heart had lost its pace.

Sun and shadow crisscrossed your brown hair
as I walked, as if I hadn’t seen you, or didn’t care.

The back of your neck was overgrown
with unshaved hair. You looked so alone.

A river of receptionists and repairmen
swept past us as we approached Madison.

You turned left, and I continued straight ahead.
I didn’t dare look back for I’d thought you dead.

There’s a reason why I still believe in ghosts:
they live in a land of perpetual almost.

—Raymond Luczak


Raymond Luczak is the author and editor of twenty-five titles, including Flannelwood (Red Hen Press), once upon a twin (Gallaudet University Press), and Compassion, Michigan: The Ironwood Stories (Modern History Press). His work has appeared in Poetry, Passages North, and elsewhere. He lives in Minneapolis, Minnesota.