“The Curation of Ghosts” by Hugh Blackthorne

Capture ghosts in bell jars, glowing bright like fireflies. Use the ghosts to guide the way along the storm shore where waves break.

When the ghosts protest over ghost rights and the inhumanity of confinement and talk about the rights of prisoners, tell them the rules don’t hold for incorporeal forms.

Take the ghosts to the breakwater, but not beyond mid-afternoon when silver flashes over grey seas. Morning is best because that’s when they’re unlikely to be called home.

Feed ghosts clouds of memory, a softer grey than sky, more like the underside of a dove’s wing. Water them with India ink to mark their outlines in space. Begin with one drawing, then another.

Prepare the right incantation. Rhythm is key, the musicality of the ritual. If out of tune, they will silence and no prophesy will come.

Keep scraps of ribbon, cotton fabric remnants, silk swatches, kept to absorb the scent of our world. They can take our offering to theirs, keeping the peace.

Don’t use vacuums around ghosts. Suction is regrettable.

Solstice time is when the realms are closest. Also on bingo Tuesdays, because they love a good game and a scratch card after a seaside walk.

Take the ghosts to new-build suburbia or glass condos poking at the sky. Forget wooden haunted houses: they seek new territory to claim.

Open the jar to release the ghosts. Watch for pranks, missing socks, and lost keys. Also listen for exotic radio stations that crackle in the car as they say goodbye.


Hugh Blackthorne writes fiction and poetry. He messes about with old stuff during the day and wrangles words at night. His writing has been published by the Scottish Book Trust, P.S. I Love YouThe Mad RiverThe Junction, and Anti-Heroin Chic (forthcoming). Hugh lives in the urban wilds of Victoria, Canada, and spends his time trying not to fall into the Pacific Ocean. He is on Twitter @hughblackthorne and more of his work can be found on Medium @hugh.blackthorne.