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  • When you leave a place, you leave ghosts in the rooms. You travel to a place, and you look at the room, or the rooms, on the day you are departing, and you see your own ghost in the mirror. You see your own ghost in the closet, where your clothes still hang as phantoms, thought they be nestled inside your suitcase, which is stuffed, and humming.

    The rooms are full of you: your vapour, your exhaled breath, your dry food. Even the bread crumbs seem ghostly, seem to contain some essence of you. Even the bread crumbs in the bed seem to be singing some kind of haunting poetry, with the lost syllables of your night dreams and love conversations.

    The buildings across the way, of course, have been watching you all the time. That is the given.

    But inside, you are fooled each time you travel that the inevitable will not happen. But it happens. It is is inevitable and it happens. The room was never a room, it was a sponge, the flies were never flies, they were flies on the wall, they contain pieces of your travelling spirit. The room which was empty and anonymous when you arrived is never so anonymous again. That someone soon will come in and lay their own breath down on the pillow seems like a joke, a tease, a karmic prank.

    This was your time, your experience, your hours, you owned the hours.

    Never again will the room know me.

    We had something, and now I am gone. I am here, but I am gone. I am leaving. Do not show me a photograph anybody else has taken. It is a lie, a subterfuge, a con, a tourist come-on. Because this place and I had so much, so many laughs and sobs, I will not defame it by chitchat, you say to your heart. Only poetry and my heart residence on earth, as Neruda named it.

    But even that drains away, to a more tender kindness.

    It was mine, you were mine, you 20 square metres, you 40 square metres, you one room, you two, you three. We had a thing, a sojourn fling, and you have crumbs of me down in the day bed cracks. Still...a photograph of the empty space can grab me like a fist around my heart muscle and squeeze it. For that picture is not a picture, at all, of emptiness.

    It is a picture of my ghost leavings, and they are waiting for me, waiting for my human flesh to return. The empty room is more full than any picture of a party.

    (photo by Susan)
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