This page once was blank, once was pulp,
once was tree. Someone dips a pen
in the inkwell and the letter appears.
Pictograph of an eye,
a skull, which should be bleached white
but now is black. Its curved horns point
the way to the Pacific cliffs toward the sea.
What has a beginning must have an end,
you’d think. Draw a line
from here across the ocean—it would stop
at the isle of the dead. Shapes slink toward us
through a pinkish, clinging fog. A silent letter
begins our names, unpronounceable
but for a glottal grunt. I tell you the ancient
stories—Jonathan and David, Achilles and Patroclus.
Men like us have always been here. If you separate
the right glyph from the left, if you
deconstruct the letter,
the world almost ends. Once this page was blank
but now is not. Text me a photo of your left hand,
my gold band
circling your finger with half of infinity’s ring.
From Instructions for Seeing a Ghost (University of North Texas Press, 2020) by Steve Bellin-Oka. Copyright © by Steve Bellin-Oka. Used with the permission of the author.