She discovered her math did magic.
It started out with harmless things, numbers glowing in the dark, sums humming upon solving. Things began to become more noticeable the day a particularly complex differential equation burned a hole straight through the paper and into the wood of the desk underneath, leaving a smouldering mark shaped like parentheses.
That day, she started to pay attention to the effects of her work (after hunting down a damp rag to extinguish the affected patch), taking careful notes and keeping a fire blanket at hand.
Soon she figured out which kinds of math were more harmonic, resulting in gentle light radiating from the ink on the page to keep her company. Other aspects went less well; especially certain types of fractions wreaked havoc more often than not, setting off tiny explosions either immediately or with a delay in direct inverse proportion to the denominator in case it was even and less than thirty-eight on a Tuesday.
After a few weeks she managed to create her first portal, tiny but still big enough to reach through the indices for the mug of coffee left in the kitchen two rooms away. Not much later, she travelled by the numbers and started writing into the sand of lonely beaches, trying to shift reality in subtle ways but not quite sure how far to go into touching the fabric of the world. Maybe just knowing she had the power to stop the universe was enough.
There’s a little girl
who loves the shadows,
loves the ghosts of ancient times,
often sitting between trees and tombstones,
sneaking out at night,
listening to tales of old
whispered from beneath the ivy,
somewhere in the ground;
and sometimes at midnight
for a minute between days
she meets them for a moment,
the spectres keeping her alive
with company and gentle tone,
hushing her despair and fear
with all their love and memories fond
of other girls who lived before.
“Alien abductions on the rise”,
the headline says,
and below, in smaller letters:
“Countless alien parents demand their children back from the human scientists who took them against treaties and trust.”
The ghost of the priest
in the ruins of the church down the road
still lends his ear
to all who need a friendly guide
and so he waits
by the crumbled front steps
outwaiting the centuries
in case you grow weary of the world
in the middle of the night,
awakened by uneasy dreams
or kept awake by bitter thoughts
and you find comfort in knowing
you won’t be judged for slipping out of the house and down the road
in nightclothes and unlaced boots,
neither by neighbours nor priest,
as this is just what you do
when sorrow drives you out of bed
as many an ancestor before
and the village has ever been strong
thanks to one priest too stubborn
to let death revoke his vocation
and so you slip on your boots
and you slip out of the door
hurrying down to the pater
who will listen until dawn
and you know
you won’t feel the cold stone steps
on which all the generations sat
and you find comfort in that as well
belonging so much your body knows
the stone steps mean solace
thanks to one priest too stubborn
to let death stop him from doing
the best thing he could ever do.
I’m the ghost between the pages,
flitting through your books:
whispering to you life details
left out by historians
and novelists of old.
(You know, the juicy bits. And women’s thoughts and inventions.)
Captain’s log: There’s a pandemic outside and I stopped counting the weeks I’ve been working from home. Just leaving this note here in case of very distant future visitors. We wear fabric masks and there hasn’t been any dry yeast or rye flour available in over a month. At least the toilet paper hoarding seems to ebb. No zombies so far, but conspiracy myths are rampant.
Letters to ghosts
left behind by the fire,
some buried inside walls;
letters by ghosts
dropped under your bed,
smelling of old photographs.
But the black, the black swallowing
as you drown
in the stars, the blue, the void;
and the nothing fills your lungs
with dread, with awe
space, space taking your breath.