so I let it in.    It didn’t wail nor rattle chains
nor hoard boos within its throat.

Its clothes were form-fitting,
& it was fond of toast    but had an aversion to jelly,

explaining it was on a diet.    We spent hours
watching sports together,

mostly hurling & archery,
& when I turned on a scary movie,    it fled the room.

Our conversations were wide-ranged   but boring,
never broaching subjects

such as death, as I feared
I might easily offend it.    I never asked for its name

but sensed I was privileged   & considered it a friend.
I felt I was one step away

from entering the loony bin;
but my friend had it worse,   its two feet in the grave.

After a while,    I discovered its name was Harold
& that it—he—was fond of my dog.

To rehearse my own death,
I shadowed his movements,    taking cues

from how he reacted    to everyday happenings;
but after several weeks,

I realised he wasn’t a ghost:
He was a person as lonely as I’d been   but not as gullible.

Then, one day,    he left me with my solitary thoughts
& took my dog along with him.