Last night I dreamed
that a friend who died nearly two years ago
walked into the dingy, brown-boothed restaurant
where I was sitting at a table
with some people I knew and some I didn’t.
He strolled up in a rumpled plaid shirt, smiling,
hands in his pockets (as he would)
as if to join us, as if he’d never been gone.
Then he said,
I think my parents might be at that table in the back;
I want to go say hello,
and kept walking.

I knew he was a ghost
but I was so happy and amazed
to see him in any form
that I dropped my sticky, faded menu
and jumped out of my seat.
I said to his wife, who had walked up with him,
When did he come back? And how?
And what did he say to you first?

Are we the only ones who can see him?
At a loss for words,
she just shrugged her shoulders, laughing
and I kept asking questions:
Should we follow him to make sure he doesn’t disappear again?
(as if we could)

I woke up with the word how on my tongue,
with a mixture of joy and confusion
and the dizzying sensation that past, present and future
had collided

and which, if I had to describe as a flavor, would be that of
a not-quite-ripe persimmon
I once tasted as a child:
sharp and sweet with a strange fuzzy bitterness