The house, across from a church,
was a funeral parlor
for the pestilent redoubts
of a century’s world wars.
Some enterprising Belgian
bricked in the two double-doors
where mourners used to enter
and leased to Americans.
Us, with a dirt floor cellar!
Mold in the kitchen, cat’s howl –
an obscene, guttural sound.
You were a colorful nine
to my cheerless thirteen.
Our youth drew them like poison.
Remember how we trembled,
in the darkness and the truth?
Oh, sister! Your ghosts were mine.

The Fourth without fireworks,
a harbinger without runes.
The last foreign daughter, she
warned us something lurked.
Terrified of the shower, she
swore it waited like water –
her words, hidden in my room:
This house is a devourer.
We dragged your mattress, exhumed
it like a body, and cowered
beneath the late summer light.
Sun attended signs
of a supernatural blight:
tapping in the halls, rapping in the rafters.
All night, inhuman intruders wrote
Morse-code in devil’s aural scrawl.
Oh, sister! Your ghosts were mine.

Walls sang obituaries
for dead boys in Croix de Guerre.
Our home, a cemetery!
Poor pretty, in this fable
you are poltergeist’s beloved.
Our quartermaster’s table:
their resting place, your nowhere.
Tormented and shoved, you were hysteric
as souls in Salpêtrière.
Psychic portal aflood,
you fled – demon, banshee?
Just me. No Christ and no swine
to cast out dread. I found you
with the fowl, by the tree.
Shivering, invisibly scarred.
Even now, I hear your pleas.
Oh sister, your ghosts!

December, 2015


Image courtesy of Darren Lewis.

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