in memory of Reetika Vazirani (1962-2003) and Rachel Wetzsteon (1967-2009) Sewanee, Tennessee. Summer of '96, I went there for booze and poetry and rest. I danced a little dance; I talked a little shop. I forgot a recent ghost. "Invitation to a Ghost" was my favorite poem in Tennessee. And Justice taught my workshop. (God love him, he called me decadent for ending a line with an anapest.) At the dance party with Allison and the rest of the poets from Rebel's Rest, ambition was the ghost unseen, but always in attendance. And I misplaced my faith in Tennessee, upon a hill: I gave an undergrad what-for after priming him with lines of Bishop. Gossip is another word for talking shop. But Rachel, sharper than the rest, winner of things I hoped for, was above all that, like a charming host. She spoke of posterity in Tennessee. And every day felt like a dance preparing us for a bigger dance. In the bookstore, I pretended to shop with Reetika, Rachel's roommate in Tennessee, wicked-funny and stunning and rest- less. We flirted like we stood a ghost of a chance. I was twenty-four. I wonder now what it's all been for: that summer; the words; the awful dance that followed. So many ghosts. Let the muses close the horror shop. Let Rachel and Reetika rest. —Years ago, there was Tennessee.
Copyright © 2012 by Randall Mann. Used with permission of the author.