haunted house

by meep matsushima

I wrote the first draft of this poem right before the pandemic; I was too sick to function, and I never left my apartment, except to go to work. I felt like I was a ghost in my own life. I used to walk five miles a day, up to fifteen miles a day on weekends, and now I could not stand up unsupported. I was diagnosed later with a degenerative chronic pain condition.

This condition made it physically impossible for me to participate in in-person protests. Even if I could march, I couldn’t risk COVID-19 infection, since I moved in with disabled and immunocompromised family. Our apartment is too small to self-isolate. All summer, I was struggling with the idea that my contributions were meaningful, and not a ghost of “real” protest. More than ever, I felt like the ghost of my past (pre-disability, pre-diagnosis, pre-pandemic) self.

At the start of the pandemic, there was a flurry of articles about people living in haunted homes, and the comfort of not living alone, even if your only company is a ghost.

this ghost and me,
we’re both mourning the same thing

we miss
the smell of rain evaporating
off hot pavement

air conditioner blast
shivering against sweaty air

fingers sticky ice cream dripping
soles melting onto pavement

we miss
our bodies in the city

Meep Matsushima is a disabled white genderqueer lesbian poet and librarian. Originally from New England, Meep got her name in Tokyo and currently lives in the Washington, D.C., suburbs. Meep is a student at Hamline University’s MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults program. She has poetry in Strange Horizons, Microverses, and Strange Fire: Jewish Voices from the Pandemic.