disrobing the ghost

by Michael Virga
The Writer's Block
Third Place, November 2014
Judged by Philip Belcher


his robe on
yet as uninhabited as hers

resting twice upon a time

on the shoulders

of the reclining lift chair

unwhirling from cloth
beyond some wear in time
raising the shades

the rush of the full moon fills him . . .
his heel brushing by her comb
left — in our bedroom — still

on the worn rug
the soles warm
following in the glow of her footsteps

to free from the weave of fabric

reunited in the one his & her robe of light


Besides the delight a reader takes in this poem’s attention to diction, e.g. “twice upon a time,” “some wear in time,” and “raising the shades,” I want to mention the poem’s ambition. Ambition is sometimes discussed in terms of a poem’s scope, or lack thereof—the depth of what is being attempted. Here, I think the ambition is inherent in the poet’s effort to describe in a fresh way what could be a clichéd scene—lover separated by death finally reunited. The element of craft that makes this work is the specificity of the description, particularly “his heel brushing by her comb . . . left on the worn rug . . . .” In addition, the irregular line breaks work nicely with the subject and the tone of the poem. It is always a good thing when form and content work together, and the poet has done a nice job of that in this poem. --Philip Belcher

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