and each house she declares haunted on the way.
For the boarded up Coast Guard tower she ignores
to sit at the end of a metal pier with Rhea, close but
never touching, a careful distance she’s nursed into normalcy,
an orbit I am happy to swing through. See, Katie’s talking
about mermaids or the occult while Lake Eerie
packs its cold into the air around us. And I believe her,
but I am sure there are some things better than ghosts:
like her hands still fluttering and tucked away into their pockets,
neat as the corners of the fitted sheet she wraps her sleep in.
She asks what Rhea would do if she were nine mermaids
at once, leans out to feel the spray from
water that has no smell and disappoints her.

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