When I washed my hands for the 20th time that day
I stared in the mirror above the sink
as I dried my hands
a hollow eyed ghost stared back at me.
My lips parted to speak
and the ghost's lips parted, too
so I waited to hear what he had to say
but the words whispered out and I could not tell.
Once again I started to speak
and once again I waited in deference
and I strained my ears as he spoke
and he said "sorry, I'm sorry".
I nodded as if I understood
and waited longer to invite
any other word he cared to speak
but he slowly shook his head and I shook mine, too.
So at last I could say what I wanted to say
and as I spoke the ghost shook his head
his hollow eyes grew more hollow
his haunted face grew more haunted.
I spoke to the ghost and he shook his head
even I could not hear the words I spoke
I wondered if I'd become deaf after all
but the ghost assured me that I hadn't.
I caste my eyes up and down
I glanced from left to right
and turned my head to look over my shoulder
but there was no ghost nearby.
Then I stared straight ahead
into the mirror of the past
into the mirror of the future
straining for a glimpse of the now.
The ghost stared back without emotion
and when I started to speak he turned his head
so I hesitated
and washed my hands again.