Giving Up the Ghost
Remember Jacob Marley?As children, didn't we just knowthat Jacob's theatrical chains had to be real?I felt bad for the actor, forcedto carry the guilt of another's fiction.Although the narrator told usScrooge was a miser, we all knewthere was good left in him.Now, another narrator tells usCanton is a miserable city,and we don't know what to expectfrom the ghosts that visit us.Abandoned factories become haunted houses,profits trickling in six weeks a yearlike the tingle of an amputee's phantom limb.Yet another narrator tells us the patron saintof cancer, St. Peregrine, was healedby a vision of Christ, butthere is no Holy Ghost willingto heal an amputee. Do you thinkthe body is sensitive enough to feela missing organ, or does it lose touch,like neighbor from evicted neighbor?Before we ever visited the hospital,a narrator instructed usto sign insurance forms in triplicate:the
yellow and pink sheets on bottom,the white sheet on top, pale as a ghost.Before there were oxygen tubes,there was a padlock on the front door.Before there was a padlock,there were Marley's chains.Like a ghost that wears the clothesit died in, some foreclosed homesstill have garland on their railingsand Christmas lights along their gutters.