There are ghosts everywhere. In the trees and clouds, between mountains, deep in the holler, along the coolies beside the creek, overgrown tangled in willow, littered with deadfalls: each and every overhead cliff, an ancient snag ready and able to hang the guilty.
Not that I believe in them. Ghosts I mean.
Most are wondering around. Possibly lost. They don’t say much. Nor me back to them. A courteous nod is about it. Most of the times they are surprised, as I, to have run into each other.
Long ago they’d nudge me awake. My mother used to want to know what they were wearing. I used to be afraid at first. I’d listen to the radio until I was asleep. She would ask, was he wearing an army uniform, a plaid shirt, a tam? Don’t be afraid she’d say. They’re not here to hurt you.
They’re here to tell you something, she’d say.
I didn’t believe.
The ghosts kept appearing, in the creek bottoms. At night they were among the stars. I’d feel them go through me, in a rush, taking my breath into the sky above the crags.
We got used to each other. They don’t talk, but sometimes I will. I tell them I don’t believe. Then tell them the creek is low, the snow will be early, there is a moose in the upper basin that comes out in the morning to walk the slough, it better keep it’s head down until the end of hunting season.
Animals curve where they shouldn’t. Same as people. Ghosts blend in. Once you see them you will always see them.
If you believe in that stuff.