Wordless Ghosts Speak to Me in the Language of Jasmine

My house was built in 1912. It is surrounded by trees a hundred years old lining sidewalks of cracked concrete that sparkle in the sun. Weeds grow in the cracks alongside the occasional yellow poppy, as if beauty and ugliness were carving out tiny spaces in our souls.

During warm weather, the smell of night blooming jasmine is heavy, like bass notes of music floating in the air. It’s as if searing heat from the sun burns messages into all the blooming things, while the cool air at night gives them permission to come alive.

I have always existed in the between things, in the smell of jasmine seeping through porous wood and old window glass. I like to breathe in the things that I can see, and with eyes closed the things that I can’t.

It is on a hot day, walking through the latitude of my life that I feel furthest away from the memories of my youth. But when the sun sets ghosts come out of hiding. They scratch at my door. They fester in my bones. They drift into my mouth and down my throat while I sleep.

They wait for night. They wait for me.

My Dad visits then, in dreams where my imagination soars. I cry in dreams. I scream and shout. I read letters and decipher complex equations. I fly above planets and kiss beautiful men with their hands in my hair. I am a universe unto myself when I dream.

Dad visits only when I sleep. He never speaks a word. He stares at me with a hundred questions in his eyes. The kind I won’t answer. A few I simply can’t. Sometimes it’s just the silhouette of him across a crowded street, standing faraway on a hill, or retreating down a long hallway. The longing to feel safe with him again is a thing so intense there are simply, no words.

When I dream of Dad – the childhood Dad with his cowboy stance, lopsided grin and ocean eyes, or dying Dad with his cocktail glass, loaded handgun and soft-soled shoes, I wake up in immense pain. A physical pain in my lower back as if I’d spent the previous day carrying a large object up a steep hill. I am left flush with the melancholy heaviness of the burden I’ve placed on myself. As if throughout the day I’m still in the dream, unable to shake it off, clinging to his wordless silhouette. This feeling provides me for small time with the ability to see and smell and taste things normal people can’t, like a bloodhound searching for decay. It lasts for hours, sometimes the entire day.

On a day like today, when it is hot and humid and a steady wind blows in from the North, my mind becomes drenched in the history of all my hollow places. I step out onto the porch and the coolness of shade. I’ll sip hot coffee, sit in my wicker chair and seek forgiveness in the rising sun.

The sun will scorch whatever message into the flower it sees fit. When it finally sets, just as my last bit of dream slips away, I’ll once again smell the night blooming jasmine in the air. I will close my eyes, as I’ve done a hundred times before, and sit inside the silence.

I don’t know why this profusion of fragrance portends a midnight visit from my dead father. I only know that in the absence of sound or words or hope, I’ll gladly live inside the smell of burning flowers.

© 2009 mstrace

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Wordless Ghosts Speak to Me in the Language of Jasmine by 

Yes the jasmine is blooming and sometimes you just need to write the damn dream down.


  • JenniferB
    JenniferBover 5 years ago

    You have a way of writing that taps into all of the senses… Jasmine is my favourite fragrance. Beautiful writing. :)

  • oh Jen, I can’t thank you enough. And I got lucky with the Jasmine then, didn’t I? hehe

    – mstrace

  • PJ Ryan
    PJ Ryanover 5 years ago

    I’ve just sighed the biggest sigh.

    I want to meet you one day.

    I hope we meet.

    There’s a lot in you that reminds me of myself … not least of all our fathers and their passing. My dad was a cowboy and i know that stance you write about. I remember once (and only once) did i dream of him in the year after his passing and he didn’t say a word to me. In fact, he looked at me and walked away, on board a bus. I wanted him to come with me but he didn’t.

    He visits me now whilst i’m awake, often. He speaks to me in different ways.

    This piece is beautifully descriptive and spiritual. Burn the flowers and let the aroma fill the air like oil.

    Big hugs sista

  • We will, we will!! Meet one day that is. So that we can speak to each other in the language of departed Dads.

    hugs right back at ya, BIG hugs

    – mstrace

  • Lisa  Jewell
    Lisa Jewellover 5 years ago

    One of the most beautiful pieces of writing I’ve read….I visualised everything from the house, the cracks and the fragrant scent tickled beyond my sense of smell.

    I felt immense infinity with you, and wow our individual dream world. Where I too am kissed and held….

    Sigh…..melancholy swept over me, when reading of your dream visits with your Father….how absolutely lovely…

    There are times when words are not required…


  • my darling Lisa, you just gave me the best compliment ever, and my tummy was warm all day from the feeling.

    thank you…thank you…and, thank you.

    – mstrace

  • Lisa  Jewell
    Lisa Jewellover 5 years ago

    That should have been affinity :))

  • Astoreth
    Astorethover 5 years ago

    The smell of Jasmine always makes me stand still and close my eyes. This is such a beautiful writing. xx

  • thank you so much Astoreth!

    – mstrace

  • Erika .
    Erika .over 5 years ago

    WOW! you have left me speechless, this is one of those rare pieces you don’t run into everyday. Your writing is so poignant and vivid. I can smell the jasmine, I felt the burden you woke up with.

    “I read letters and decipher complex equations. I fly above planets unvisited…I am a universe unto myself.” I can relate to this so much.
    This is delicate and descriptive writing. I can’t really explain how beautiful this piece is. All I can say is that I love it and it will go into my favorites. :)

  • erika, I am humbled (truly) by that amazing comment. I can’t thank you enough for reading this piece and for taking the time to write such a beautiful compliment.

    – mstrace

  • ENaLu
    ENaLuover 5 years ago

    it’s where they come to love us and speak without words,
    today is the 3 month anniversary of my mother’s passing
    am very grateful that she visits me often
    she was, is the great love of my life
    the one that would do anything for me……..
    last night I went out, urged by a prompting from the night, the moon
    the stillness to pick her some roses and locked myself out of the house!
    I could hear her laughing!
    My daughter Alexia who passed 9 years ago, her middle name was Yasmin
    because of the flower because of the scent that brings us closer now
    I make a blessing for you
    and you dad

    love e

  • oooooh, Ena luv – thank you for that blessing!

    – mstrace

  • ShadowDancer
    ShadowDancerover 5 years ago

    mstrace, i had to remind myself to breathe as i read through this delicate piece. .. this is filled with a whole universe of emotions, my soul is heavy as i carry them with me through the night… beautiful writing, so beautiful.

  • shadow, such a great reaction! what more could a writer hope for, but to have their readers so caught up. boy do I thank you for that!

    – mstrace

  • Outdoors2
    Outdoors2over 5 years ago

    I love when you write about your Dad, He brings “you” …;-)
    in-between group

  • hello Mr. Lion…thank you for saying that.

    I joined the in-between group, looks pretty cool

    – mstrace

  • butchart
    butchartover 5 years ago

    your words find places in me that i never thought would be found…… you have a gift that goes far beyond the weaving of words… into an empathatic realm……….. bless you………b

  • butchart, you are too kind. I mean that. your soul is rare and full of light. so I bless you right back!

    – mstrace

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