“Ghost Ship” by Sonia Greenfield

Sonia Greenfield


I have been that young, that electrified
by the bohemian scene of a city spilling its lights
all around me. I have been to parties
in sketchy spaces where painters have work
on the walls that should be seen by millions
but is seen by the few of us figuring out
who we’re going to fuck after too much cheap wine
drunk from plastic tumblers, figuring out
how we’re going to make it a country’s width away
from families, struck out on our own
like explorers getting comfortable with being alone
in a wilderness that is actually just a room
rented in a house of strangers. I have been
that woman high on E, my eyes doll-dark, jaw
clenched, body ready to swallow pleasure
in a million lusty gulps. I know any space we inhabit
can become a ghost ship. I have read enough
to know stories of wildfires, of boats found
empty, of the soul yanked whole-cloth from
its innocent wearer. But you can’t live in fear
of the apparition, the adventurers afloat on
their rickety structure and cast to a sea
of flames. It can happen at any time to anyone,
so when music flares up and takes a hold of you,
when a swirl of colored spot lights sets you
spinning, you have to dance as if
the very act of living depends on it.

from Poets Respond
December 11, 2016

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Sonia Greenfield: “When I read of the ‘Ghost Ship’ fire in Oakland at the artists’ warehouse, and I read of the individuals who were lost in the fire, I realized how much those people were like me twenty years ago, trying to make it in the Bay Area, in love with life on my own and the creativity and melodrama of being young in the city. Besides the years between us—the then and now—the only thing that separates them from me is chance: my luck and their misfortune. It’s a terrible story and too true in terms of how fate works.” (website)

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