Ghost Shed

One interpretation of an artist’s role.

animal black and white royalty free goat

I may not know what to write, but it comforts me to have a wall of books between me and the outside. I am remembering the artist who covered walls––and these were high, museum walls––floor to ceiling with framed pages of books. It was tens of thousands of pages at a time, many of them containing these complex numerical representations. It was boggling, tremendous. You knew everything was purposeful, every page in relationship with everything else, but you could not take it in.

Sometimes a person would ask her what she was thinking, and she would not answer. Then, when they walked away, she would say, It’s about time. To a friend, she whispered, Season follows season

Some people evoke shimmering fonts of dizzy admiration, and she was one. Someone told me that she kept goats––three of them, in a shed––but I heard ghosts instead of goats. They had names, these (ghosts)––Micky, Mama Micky, and Kleine Micky––and I thought, that’s her secret! Even though she insisted there was no secret.

I built a sizable shed for my ghosts. This was no easy feat in a small apartment. I brought them food, water, changed their bedding, offered trinkets for them to enjoy. When the time came, I would bury them, as the artist had, in adjacent plots, each with a personalized gravestone.

By the time I learned it was goats and not ghosts that she had been tending, it was too late to change certain habits, especially after having built up whole mythologies to explain why it is that the role of the artist is the proper care and feeding of ghosts.


Inspiration for this piece comes from readings on Hanne Darboven

Author: Stacey C. Johnson

I keep watch and listen, mostly in dark places.

6 thoughts on “Ghost Shed”

  1. That’s some delicious wordplay, and what you did with “plots” too, though not sure if you were channeling there or it was intentional. Loved the directness in this piece and conversational tone. Fun to ruminate on caring for ghosts too, definitely like something only you can see that can come to haunt you over time.

    1. Hah! I love your insight about the “plots” Bill! Once again, credit goes to some insight beyond mine, as I would have missed that delight without you pointing it out. Thanks, Bill! : )

      1. I think I’ve tinkered with that metaphor in the scheme of gardening before so I was ripe for it. Heh, “ripe.”

  2. I love this Stacey! Layer upon layer. The shapeshifting nature of interpretation, life art meaning and more. It seems to say to me, that regardless of the wonder and complexity – tread this space/time lightly and when possible, with a smile. Lovely twists.

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