Rikki Santer


after Faces of the Living Dead: The Belief in Spirit Photography by Martyn Jolly

Untitled by Marie Dashkova

Is that you my long dead daddy
in the produce section cradling
apples in the electro-magnetic ether—
my memory map yearning
for a vapory mass to pour into its edges
from the other side of the veil.

I’m tethering onto the year you
were born when photo plate portraiture
delivered rapture in ghost clouds
for the bereaved. Corseted women
swooning with extra babies in their laps,
mustached men stoic with floating arms
around their necks.

Your driver’s license from my wallet
ensnares me, the honey and onion of revisiting
your countenance, to see my face hover over
plastic coating then merge with your grin.
Those early photographers never telegraphed
forensic truth from their thick book of tricks—
pig liver ectoplasm, double exposure,
the cunning parlor of imagination.

Tonight I will prompt the planchette
on a talking board for your spectral voice,
straining for flicks of firefly static, rusty
piano keys. From a desk drawer you
pine away on a fading WWII beach
mildewed and scratched. Tomorrow morning
the spirit angle of my smoothest rock
will teeter atop the crown of your gravestone.
I will wave with your hand to the landscaper,
open-palm swivel.


About the writer:
Rikki Santer’s work has appeared in various publications including Ms. Magazine, Poetry East, Margie, Slab, Crab Orchard Review, RHINO, Grimm, Slipstream and The Main Street Rag. She is a Pushcart Prize and Ohioana Literary Book Award nominee with a fifth poetry collection, Make Me That Happy, published this year by NightBallet Press.

Image: Untitled by Marie Dashkova. Fine art photograph. No technical information specified. By 2018. By permission.