Poetry: Karen Craigo’s “Small Gestures for the Never Departed”

There is a theory of ghosting
that says each side, blind
to its counterpart, occupies
one space, and walks around
the other, or through it,
in a dimension we are not equipped
to know. But sometimes
we spot them
in a single, lucid moment,
and they are oblivious, funny-hatted,
wearing the robes of their strangeness.
And maybe they see us too
from time to time and are terrified
by our loose hair, our trousers,
by how long we seem to stare
into nothing.

We pity them
their paltry afterlife—
how night after night
they pace hallways they don’t know
they share. It is dumbness
that pains us, that we read
as a type of hell.
It shames us to think
we might frighten,
but some evenings,
disheveled, moaning,
we can’t help

Let’s agree to leave a light on
for these others—
resolve not to stare
into what looks like emptiness
but may be the very rooms
they try so hard
to live and breathe in.


Karen Craigo lives and works and looks for new work in Springfield, Missouri. Until she finds it, she’s focusing her attention on her family and her cat. Her poetry and essays appear in numerous journals, and she is the author of two chapbooks, Someone Could Build Something Here (Winged City, 2013) and Stone for an Eye (Kent State/Wick, 2004).

Photo credit: quicksandala, morguefile.com

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