Ghost writer

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I.

I was born when you were born, skin to skin –
embraced you like a long lost friend –

stayed –
with you, born with the brown skin

of an old woman, thin and translucent
to the touch, became a second skin

for you, a little taller, my feet stifled
underneath yours, became for you

a cradle against everywhere your skin
was.

II.

You know there is a ghost outside your skin,
leaning on your shoulder. Fingers on your ribs.

All your light is for it. It keeps your dark, too,
makes the you in earlier photographs

a darker-skinned, unknowable, silent body –
do any ghosts know their bodies?

Is this how the flame feels when the moth comes calling?
The ghost on your skin is like rain on a river,

foreign and not, to your body without abode.
Home has to be a body without skin –

III.

One day, the question slipped
from your cracked lips

and you asked your mother,
who was not born but became homeless,

how do you bear it, this dryness,
these waterless winds of foreign lands?

She gave you a pot, not gold
but wood

and empty, and said,
you are a well without walls. Draw.

IV.

Like a god, like a woman, you turn
land into water; ghosts into bodies;

your homesick skin into home.

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