befriends the neighborhood dogs and
chatters at the fat squirrels
who forget where they buried
their fourth or eighteenth or forty-third acorn last fall.
Those lost acorns might grow eventually,
the broad greenery of their
into the sky.
The ghost is where she was,
where she used to be.
The neighbors grow their zucchini and yellow squash
and whisper when they think she’s gone.
She knows her lingering disturbs the rest of them—
the husbands and wives
and their children and their Golden Retrievers.
Their curiosity simmers and bubbles,
popping up like mushrooms behind her
on her daily walk in the shade of the black gum and the wych elm.
The murmured questions do not trouble her.
She cannot answer them anyway.
She is mostly happy.
As was her life before, so is her afterlife:
Each night, contentment slips into bed
next to her like a
peace and quiet pace her halls,
admitting no unrest, no indecision,
no unruly disappointment.
Often, instead of sleeping, she will visit the river.
Some children who are now grown
built a raft out of old wooden pallets and inner tubes.
It idles in the bend of a narrow channel.
Its makers are long ago and far away,
and now it belongs to her.
On warm summer evenings,
after sunset but before moonrise,
when the fireflies
blink their romance into the gloaming,
she pulls away the vines
that have crept over the wood
and sails the waters in her little bark,
one hand drifting in the current,
one hand raised to brush the leaves of the willow tree and the dogwood
as she passes silently below.
By Lauren Folk
Lauren Folk (she/her) is a freelance editor, writer, and photographer. She graduated from Smith College and is currently earning her MA in English from The University of Akron.