Tuesday Poem: Ghosts, by Maria McMillan

I have seen ghosts

sliding under the surface,
skittish things flitting
in the boat’s wake
but only one has seen me.
A sea snake spiralled
out of the water
looked straight into my eyes
and was gone.
The dead can be reckless
I thought and then
Do I think this is death?
When I said goodbye to our sister
she curled small,
would not let me touch her,
never once lifted her face
while I was in the room.
My father cried
my mother patted me on the shoulder
and looked beyond me
to the garden.
I am not afraid of the sea
or the sun on my throat
or the gasp of the wind.
I am not afraid of the nights
where the sail is a shroud,
where we are not floating
but a weight passed forward
by many hands.
Credit note: “Ghosts” is included in Maria McMillan’s first collection of poetry The Rope Walk (Seraph Press, 2013) and is reproduced here by permission of the poet and the publisher.
Tim says: I’ve enjoyed hearing Maria’s poetry at various venues over the years, and so I was very pleased to hear that her first collection was coming out from Helen Rickerby’s Seraph Press. I recently read the collection and enjoyed all of it, but two especial highlights for me were “Ghosts” and “1989”, which Helen has recently run as a Tuesday Poem on her blog.
“Ghosts” is a beautiful, delicate and moving poem, and beyond that, I think it speaks for itself.

4 thoughts on “Tuesday Poem: Ghosts, by Maria McMillan

  1. I greatly enjoyed reading Maria's collection at home in Canberra, far from the sea. (Well, two hours from the sea, anyway.) Lovely indeed.As to your segue line, Tim, I didn't know that stars had baths.

  2. Thanks, Penelope and Kathleen!Penelope, the stars are divided by the great \”Messier/Less Messier\” Classification. The western stars prefer baths, the eastern stars shower.

  3. This is lovely and quiet and so heartfelt. I love the connections between ghosts and the sea and visions and death… This is a lovely delicate thing. Looking forward to reading Maria's collection.

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