I dreamed my dead friend, Dan,
came back. All six feet of him,
dressed as usual, minus shoes.
I offered him some brown size twelves
my uncle left behind.
But he shook his head,
gave me a hug, so strong, so real,
I felt the buttons on his shirt,
the wale of his beige cords.
In stocking feet, we walked the streets
slowly, picking our way
across asphalt knobs and sharp stones.
Dan, you’re dead, a ghost, I said.
and placed my palm against his cheek
to feel slight stubble there.
What have you been doing
all this time? Your wife’s
remarried, your children are grown.
He grinned, It’s classified.
Put a finger to his lips, then gently
blessed my head.
I’ve been watching all of you,
as you watch TV, finding
things to make me smile or laugh.
When I awoke, I understood:
the dead, no longer in our shoes,
take our lives lightly.
Softly as moths,
they slip among us,
drawn by our joy,
suffusing us with their love.
– Anna Belle Kaufman