The ghost butcher slices roast beef.
In the window pink chickens with rings
Carved in their feet.
Behind the counter, hams
Like the buttocks of big women.
The ghost butcher slices hams too,
Handles them tenderly
The way a man handles a woman
The ghost cleaners is heady with steam
From the just-pressed garments—
Black men’s suits with seats that hint a shape
And women’s dresses and skirts.
They launder shirts in the waters
Of memory, starch strength.
There is no such thing as regret
Or guilty buyer’s remorse.
The ghost pharmacist mixes his medicine,
Pours elixirs into bottles, counts pills
And capsules the doctor who stirs cough syrup
On State Street orders, both of them
So much Black owned, not all,
In this Negro neighborhood, a safety zone.
Everything moved from our moment.
But the ghosts stayed here, stay in our corner.
That is how I know the way things are supposed to be.
That is why I am telling you before I am a ghost too.