Oh / can’t you handle / a ghost?
– Alice Notley


I can’t think of a time she uses it. The word. Ghost.

My difficulty. Believing this. There are ghosts

everywhere in her words. She just uses other.

Words. Toxins. Hormones. So we talk about

the words she does use. About the way they sit

within the body. And we talk about present. Talk

time. Talk quantum something. Oh. I say.

We should talk about the other meaning. You know.



No-one thinks she meant that. Even me. Until

I do. This meaning a shadow. As if a momentary

feeling of wholeness weren’t constant. Ly shattered.

I could offer a reading. Of the poem. Of the bone

flute. Drawn from the body. But. But this is not.

Possible. Instead. I unwrap the word. Present.

Remind me. I say. Remind me what St Augustine

said. Time as a hormone. Time as a toxin. Time

infects. The body. Time turns the bone to flute. Gifts

its hollowed body music. Marrowless. Shaded.
for Emily Stewart




Image: Mark Nye / flickr




Kate Middleton

Kate Middleton is an Australian writer. She is the author of the collections Fire Season (Giramondo), awarded the Western Australian Premier’s Award for Poetry in 2009, Ephemeral Waters (Giramondo), shortlisted for the NSW Premier’s award in 2014, and Passage (Giramondo, 2017). From 2011–2012, she was the inaugural Sydney City Poet.

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