In the ghost room

we talk about the past,
the first time we took off our shoes
whispered in the cobwebbed corners.

For me it was that day on tenth street
the old house standing like a man
with missing teeth, disheveled

among all the clean suburban lines.
Of course it called to us and we stood
with scabbed brown knees

and one of the boys – I don’t remember
which one – Freddie, most likely,
with his skewed freckles and dirty

fingernails – said there was a dead
body in the room upstairs, the closet.
A dare to enter this house

with black air in the windows
instead of glass, unkempt trees
rubbing the dust, fear and longing

sharp splinters inside my feet.
My hand pushes through into
this emptiness, disappears the way

things do when time swallows them.
What is it you hold in your mouth when
you’ve chewed up all the words and can’t

go on? That’s what my lips held then,
climbing the steps, reaching for the doorknob,
hand cupped, ready to turn.

Published in:
The Comstock Review
Fall/Winter 2015