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The Haunted Minute

 
 
 
I’m pretty confident in claiming that I tell the best ghost stories. Not just the one about how a pair of bulldozers knocked down my childhood bungalow in thirty five minutes. Nor the tale of what my mother really kept in the locked jewelry box. I learned pretty early that everyone was dirty, but in different ways. Most locks were dirty, too.
 
 
Let’s imagine we are stuck in an elevator together. When I was a kid, Dutch elm disease ravaged the neighborhood. That was before crack. Now every time I ride an elevator I think of the story my uncle told about the glass eye. It had a tiny witch inside the artificial pupil. That story wasn’t scary. I’m not sure where he found the bloody handkerchief.
 
 
You might sneer at the idea of a haunted rope, but you won’t be laughing when your car teeters at the edge of a ravine, and all you have is dental floss to secure your bumper. Sometimes during sex I whisper where’s my golden arm? So far only one man has caught the allusion. I turned him into a majestic sugar maple, and frequently picnic in his shadow.
 
 
One late afternoon we both looked out the window and said oh my god. And then we vanished like the hitchhikers that we were. We abandoned our figurative jackets in the back seat of the proverbial car. Swore each other off, and then fell off the wagon within the same night. My building was an elevator building, yours a primitive walk-up.
 
 
Are the minutes themselves haunted, or is that our fault? You might remember the apex of our love affair to be the time you had to employ olive oil to get duct tape out of my bangs. I might consider it our first trip to the broken fountain. We looked into the water and saw the reflection of our stooped, aged selves. They were complete strangers to each other.
 
 
 

Mary Biddinger is the author of five full-length poetry collections, including Small Enterprise and The Czar. Her poems have recently appeared in Diode, Five Points, Gold Wake Live, Grimoire, and The Laurel Review, among others. She lives in Akron, Ohio, where she teaches at the University of Akron & NEOMFA program and edits the Akron Series in Poetry. Biddinger’s first collection of prose poems, Partial Genius, is forthcoming from Black Lawrence Press in 2019.