The surprising occurrence of ghosts

by Jenny Dunbar

The surprising occurrence of ghosts         Jenny Dunbar


They say the whole world runs by.

We exchange anecdotes and I sigh to my heart in confidence, its pulse acknowledges.

How subtly we are affected by displacement of routine, our mornings altered fractionally, irrevocably, marking the day.

There is significance in small encounters. Affirmation we still have the hours.

I am not dying, just peeling back the layers. Weight of the years, becoming weightless. 

The door has swollen in the rain, hesitant and complaining, I listen to its heaving compliance, return to my chapter, which opens and closes, peaks, brinks, hangs without acquiring  resolution. 

In another room they take coffee, talk of events.

Outside the brushing of dead leaves, defining edges.

Do you ever have that feeling there is something behind you, gaining pace?


Fleetingly, resonances subdue, and I breathe mindfully, in no doubt the detritus lies shallow, scratching below the surface, poised to reignite the reflexes.

Remission gratefully received. 

But there is nausea in the pit.

Having unpicked the thought, it comes back to me, the old tale, winding.

Can I dispatch these phantoms into hollow caskets disintegrating on a pyre, believe in pleasant dreams?

Was that my purpose, driving all those miles, all those years, calculating the risk, playing with the absurd? In the inevitable chaos there was exhilaration, I deciphered truth, saw chinks of hope through the cracks. Now there’s a thing.

 Ancestors watch me benignly from inside smoky edges, frozen in the moment, untroubled as to whom, or where, their narrative might reach. I am part of it, yet they stand before. Waiting behind a glass in a mirror’s light. 

I am hurrying, caught in the electricity of fugue and snap, not snipping, but snapping, breathless in moth dust growing round my eyes.

Recollections of a room and a window, a tree in dull winter, the afternoon flat and falling, no place of safety.  

I conjure with that, half knowing, but incapable.  A creature falling, not dancing.

In the bathroom I listen to the ‘clug’ in the pipe, from the sink to the tub, disappearing in continuous present. 

Everything involves punctation, cadence, breath. 

I smile at the persistence of the inanimate, move to the sink, sieve coffee grains, breathe from the belly, absent myself from a house of stinging untruths, conveniently transferred emotions, another’s nag, another’s karma. 

‘If you don’t hear, don’t enquire, no action needed’, the appropriate number of days had passed, so I didn’t. Enquire.

I count the moments, shoals of them, they brush base, beginning to make acceptance a possibility, a necessary reminder that there is elegance in an empty room, clear light on wooden floors, pianos. 

Remind me of where you were waiting when we spoke?

In a truck by the edges of the flat land where black earth turns to dust and whose horizons gape. 


Jenny Dunbar is a writer and artist based in the UK. Graduating from the Royal Central School of Speech and Drama, her first specialism was in voice and theatre. Writing has always been part of her life and was a natural development from a career in the performing arts. Her first novel, Sweet earth was published in 2014 followed by an anthology, Thoughts of Time, in 2016. She has work in various anthologies and literary journals. Jenny continues to work on short fiction and poetry, she is also a potter, singer and musician.