Ghosts

Monday Morning Musings:

“Do you remember when I was in your belly,

And I hiccupped,

And that made you laugh?”

My daughter was about three at the time

When she asked me this.

She was in the backseat of the car.

We were listening to The Sound of Music,

“Sixteen Going on Seventeen”

I think,

Because she thought Rolf was funny

In the movie—

That’s before he becomes a Nazi,

If you’re keeping track.

I was startled by the question

She so casually threw out to me

And soon forgot.

Could she have actually remembered

A time before she was born?

Another day

My older daughter and I sat at the breakfast table

And discovered we had had the same dream

The night before.

How is this possible?

I don’t have a clue.

And the dream itself is long gone,

Vanished into that gray mist

Of long lost thoughts.

I think it involved a flute,

But I could be wrong.

I should have written it down,

But I was not in the habit of recording things then.

I think of a young girl who

Decades ago now,

Recorded the her daily life

Living in a Secret Annex

With eight other people

For two years

Until they were discovered.

Despite the world crashing

Around her

She believed people were

Basically kind.

Only her father lived

Through the horror though.

But her words remain.

Ghosts of a sort,

They conjure up the past

And people who exist now

Only in black and white images

And in her vivid descriptions.

I think about an episode of The Twilight Zone*—

A former S.S. Captain revisits

Dachau

He is driven insane by the ghosts of the inmates

He tormented.

They try him for crimes against humanity.

I think of horrors and war crimes that still go on.

I wonder if the tormentors are ever tormented

By ghosts

And if they live in their own Twilight Zone hell.

I hope they do.

Is that wrong?

I read in the newspaper that Philadelphia

Is planning to celebrate a day of kindness.

Surely, that should be every day,

But still

It is something.

Perhaps a truce for a day is better

Than nothing

Like the Christmas peace in the trenches

During WWI.

Ghosts of Christmas past, present, and future.

Did you know there was a spiritualism craze

In the nineteenth-century?

And séances in the White House?

Humans trying to make sense

Of the unknown.

I sometimes enjoy the tingle

Of reading fictional tales of haunted houses

And spectral beings who bump and thump

In the night.

But real life horror is different.

And scarier.

There are ghosts that I feel duty-bound

To remember.

To honor.

To try to make sense of.

There are many types of ghosts though.

Not only the tormented souls

Stuck in time and space

Unable to move

Forward

Or to find peace.

There are ghosts of our own pasts, too.

Happy ghosts.

Some live as memories

In our hearts and minds

They bring us comfort,

Make us smile,

And they make me wonder.

Embed from Getty Images

*”Deaths-Head Revisited”(Season 3, Episode 9, written by Rod Serling, originally aired, November 10, 1961.)

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16 thoughts on “Ghosts

  1. You had a precocious 3-year-old daughter – wow!

    I believe I’ve heard of seances in the White House but don’t recall whose administration. Very appropriate collection of musings in the twilight zone, perfect for Halloween week!

  2. Altogether poignant post Merril thank you .. ‘There are ghosts that I feel duty-bound -To remember. – To honor’. May we never forget the ghosts and the beauty that still shines through them in our troubled world.

    Extraordinary words from your 3yr old! Reminds me of long ago when my boys were in the bath, the youngest about 4, the elder about 9. I was keeping an eye from the bedroom. The younger said to the elder, I remember when I was born and he went on to say about this … always, wonder abounds …

    • Thanks so much, Susan.
      Extraordinary words from your son, as well. It is interesting and perhaps wondrous to think about.
      I echo your sentiment in remembering ghosts and beauty “in our troubled world.”

  3. You move between the practical and the what-ifs well, Merril, and it reminds me of myself. But I just read Julia Scheeres’ A Thousand Lives about Jonestown, and I am so scared of the charlatans, the dangers that come with the HOPE. Still creeped out by the book. But we’re always hoping for kindness anyway, aren’t we?

    • Thanks, Luanne.
      I haven’t read Scheeres’ book, but it’s a weird coincidence because I haven’t thought about Jonestown in forever, but last week I finished reading Jane Smiley’s Early Warning, and one of the characters in the book is involved with Jim Jones and his movement when they’re in San Francisco.

      • That is quite the coincidence. The “climate” is getting strange, I think, and it’s good to remind ourselves of how easily people can learn to swallow the kool-aid–although Sheeres makes a point to say that is very unfair to use that expression because many people were forced to do so and certainly the children had it forced on them. It still boggles my mind the sort of people who willingly went to Guyana.

      • I’m always amazed by how easily people believe things. They just re-post stuff on FB that I can tell in a glance is not true. In Smiley’s book, it seemed that Jones had quite a large and varied following–all sorts of people looking for answers and looking for a more equal society, and they were willing to overlook or ignore some of the nuttier or extreme positions. I guess cult leaders are always charismatic. Did you see the movie Martha Marcy May Marlene?

  4. Your musings are always filled with interesting bits of information and memories. “Surely, that should be every day…” Yes, I think so too. I feel the same about fictional horror and real life horror, too. There is a world of difference between them.

  5. My Mom had ESP. So did her Dad. Because of them, I do believe in the spirit world and that there is much that is unexplained. Your daughter’s comment is intriguing. It does make me wonder what our little ones knew before they left the womb.

    About your Jonestown comments: There was another mass suicide – over a period of years – in Russia that also was linked to a cult. These two tragedies are, indeed, scarier than any horror movie.

    • Interesting about your family, Judy. I guess I believe in the possibility. After all, animals, birds, insects, and other creatures can hear, see, smell, and taste things humans can’t. And perhaps there are other creatures around that we can’t see or have not come into contact with.

      Unfortunately, there have been other cult killings and suicides. If you Google it, you will find more.

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