Ghost Road

by John Sibley Williams


Empathy for the barren is not enough to heal the landscape. Soil still wails for fallen timber,fears for the newly planted. Whatever roots we nourish, it seems these same hands must flatten.  And we hope it’s enough to write I understand and erase it from the dead road behind us, reddening in rearview.

I will not be forgiven for having been here once, says light as it leaves us, a forest’s silhouette. Through the trees, a delicate shimmer empties cold into hoursreduced to concrete, reduced to ourselves and having proclaimed love for what we killed. When the trees are hauled away, naked light is a burning, our faces raw from remembering when the earth felt fertile.

It could be argued we are here only in that we are seen not to be nowhere. The absence of trees in our field pay witness to our breath, and the leveled landscape, the road carved into landscape, to which we say I’m sorry for the road and mean each word, as we mean each paved mile that will someday prove our existence.


John Sibley Williams is the author of eight collections, most recently Controlled Hallucinations (FutureCycle Press, 2013). Four-time Pushcart nominee, he is the winner of the HEART Poetry Award and has been a finalist for the Rumi, Best of the Net, and The Pinch Poetry Prizes. John serves as editor of The Inflectionist Review and Board Member of the Friends of William Stafford. A few previous publishing credits include: American Literary Review, Hawai`i Pacific Review, Bryant Literary Review, Third Coast, Nimrod International Journal, Rio Grande Review, Inkwell, Cider Press Review, Cream City Review, RHINO, and various anthologies. He lives in Portland, Oregon.

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