The Ghost's Child
I would like to be the smile softly
carrying you into the new day,
the warmth of hope under your head,
the laughter in your cheeks,
the happy wisdom in your waking eyes,
the promise of wisdom wrapped so tight
in your tiny hands,
I could never run away again.
But I can only run away.
For I can give you nothing but my sorrow,
my complete absence of hope,
I have no laughter with which to greet you.
I was never wise.
Wisdom passed me long ago.
I cannot meet your eyes,
or trust my fear in the gentle might
that is the faith of your tiny hands.
Tiny, tiny hands, I wish
they could take me from myself,
so I see the world as you see it,
as you always will,
and me an anxious ghost hovering
on the margins of your joy,
greying in my guilt.
And so I must grey away,
before you see me in my absences,
in the pauses where I forget
I forgot myself long ago.
And if when your little feet grow stronger
and you find
all the ways of the world are true
and you wander all the great paths
where an answering kindness
is your due,
sweet babe, if you pass a ghost,
whose hungry eyes fall on you,
scarcely daring to hope,
stop and smile. Do,
do say hello.