He holds my hand as I sift through the dead,
poke at the faces and shuffled papers with the toe of my sneaker.
Murmur, heads inclined- Agreed, there are squatters in the attic.
That’s probably who dumped our smiles onto the bedroom floor,
left liquor on the top shelf of the pantry
stuffed the cabinets with winter coats and old shoes.
Everything, the paraphernalia of our antiquated grief,
a birth announcement, a little league trophy. We are here,
we are here, everything moans with the ache of our old lives.
The rush of our exit, eviscerated rooms and portfolios in the fireplace,
Us, our atrophied joys, our weeping, it has kept
somebody warm in our absence.
“I’m older than you,” I say to the staircase,
the garage, the walls with childlike pictures tacked on.
I saw you at your sturdy nascence, and I watched you fill up
with dust and sharpness, and I loved you, loved you, loved you.
There are effervescent ghosts in the garden
playing hide and seek, making friends with fat yellow spiders
In the cupboards, eyes peeking to catch Santa, and later,
the shadowman we believe stalks you, stalks you, stalks you
at night, when an emaciated child goes
to throw her food out the window,
in the driveway, when a woman screams at the steering wheel
and sits with her head on the dashboard. Under the stairs
where unsold inventory piles in heaves of denial and suicide.
“You’re haunted”, I say to my room,
a stuffed animal perched on a shelf,
our filmy photographs,
the balcony webbed with grieving ivy.