Ghosts & Empty Sockets

My son requests four songs by
name, and when I find this one
for him he takes off

to run laps around the table
in our front room. He is two
and does this with a determined
face, like he has gone off

to solve a problem. What is dancing
if not a way to disappear?

What is song if not a trapdoor
through the ordinary. Seeing, too,
is measuring distance. How long
will he hold my hand? Or try

to bite me? Or push food into my mouth?
Whatever frightens him—the garbage
truck, the carwash, the kindly dentist—
he metabolizes by
the following morning.

What are his tears? What are his screams,
exactly, if not a recasting of the present
in the body?

I have reason to believe we will all
be conceived and fall down
and get up to cry or dance.


Joshua Marie Wilkinson is the author of several books, including a new collection of poetry, Bad Woods (Sidebrow), and a novel, Trouble Finds You (Fonograf), both out later this year. Wilkinson is a psychotherapist and he lives in Seattle.

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