Before the dream of the art film, my ghost dreamt she could live in smoke. It was the kind of smoke that crept beneath mountains and filled up the hollers. The kind of smoke that rolled under itself in a cold night wind, pushing back into the burning barn. The kind of smoke that rose from the hair of a burning horse. Horses running, lighting up the canopy of the woods, smoke filling the trees. The trees, for a long time, smelling of that smoke.
I forget that before she was a ghost, she was a little girl. The little white house below the mountain, rocks rubbed through the earth, the fast creek by the road. Mama stooped in the rows by the barns, rights herself and smiles at her. My girl, she's running in the tall grass, chasing one of the goats laughing, wild, barefoot in a white dress. There's heavy fruit hanging in the trees, barns lilting golden in sunlight, Papa swings her onto his shoulder to pick an apple.
I've seen the house, they stopped keeping it boarded up long ago. Broken windows and wild grass over the crumbling porch. Barns collapsed in a sigh. The apple tree's empty ragged limbs thrust to heaven, guarding the tiny plots enclosed by the rusted iron fence. On a full moon, they say you can see her from the road, a small figure in the tall grass watching you as you drive home.
In her film, Route 93 is the sad road. Cue the music, scenery flashes by, indicating somber introspection. Rocks rubbed through the small hill's grass, indicating Appalachia. Goats. My pickup truck and me, whistling through it, the radius of a curve next to an old church. The one brokedown farm house off Poor Farm Road, with chickens and a small girl brown hair in a white summer dress in the yard. I wave to her tiny, hurried image, and she waves back. One small hand borne aloft on a pale wrist, the sleeve falling back over her shoulder.
It could be that she really just wants her babydoll rescued from the well, and then she would be at rest. She could sing Frère Jacques every time her spirit manifests itself into glowing apparition. She could be so small that I could pick her out of the numbing water, clear and pure, with no effort and warm her next to my chest. Shivering under my chin. I could murmur to her, it's okay, I've got you. I won't let anything bad happen to you, ever again.
--Ghost Poems, collaborative effort via email with Jay Snodgrass inspired by the movie The Ring