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Ruskin and the Ghost Over His Shoulder, Jack Bedell

He never minded the mediums themselves,

always earnest in their concerns for his loss.

Aside from the smell of candle smoke

filling his parlor, seances were pleasant

experiences that went, like most evenings,

absolutely nowhere. Whenever the women

reached for his palms to read,

he did his best to focus on the wind

in the orchard, or the peacocks’ calls,

leaving a line for them they could never

cross. The very last time he poked

at this veil, though, all the faces

in the room paled at the sight

of an apparition over his shoulder,

certain it was Rose come back

for his embrace. And their certainty

was finally more than enough to convince him

his turning might burn this whole world to ash.


Jack B. Bedell is Professor of English and Coordinator of Creative Writing at Southeastern Louisiana University where he also edits Louisiana Literature and directs the Louisiana Literature Press. His latest collection is Color All Maps New (Mercer University Press, 2021). He served as Louisiana Poet Laureate 2017-2019.

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