House Ghost

My new home needs some ghosts!
The ones that hover in memory
and find their way to the floorboards,
a patina of cremains that creaks
with old joys, hurts, triumphs and defeats—
the bark of good boys sitting patiently
in their mahogany box above the dust
of Cleopatra in her oaken tomb,
always the silent bitch with
the sad brown eyes and lolling tail
and paw that planted square on my heart.

There are other queens too, stored
in hieroglyphics urns, memory jugs,
the anamnesis of hauntings packed away
in the dark corner of my closet
among medical records, teddy bears
and the remnants of unfinished poems
that may never be unpacked-
the whisper of my mother’s voice,
the final cry of a once good friend,
all secrets destined to linger.

My neighbors are tornado survivors,
some retirees, a smattering of
wealthy Indian Kashmir refugees.
My Pomchi girl is always barking at
the noise of all the outside construction.
The explosive growth unfolds
like an old hydrogen bomb
test reel played in reverse
(the black and white one
that shows clapboard houses
blasting forward in the kiloton winds),
a time lapse exposure of place creating
its own irreversible destruction.

Today I missed a face time call from my dad,
who is in the ICU on a ventilator,
rounding the corner (they say) from
a respiratory infection of unknown origin.
It’s twilight and the street sweeper outside
wheezes as it sucks up another new layer
of concrete particles and saw dust.
Little brown girls in pastel helmets
ride pink and yellow bikes pass my window
until the dust cakes to mud, the tires click
and the forward progress stops,
forcing them to dismount and
walk then lift their bikes back home.

My wife decides we need to make
a video message to cheer up my dad.
It has been so long since I’ve seen him that
the memory of his face is fading away.
After three attempts it (the one with the dog)
was good enough to upload via Ichat.
I twinged at the idea of my dad’s passing,
making me like my wife, whose parents
expired years ago, a technical orphan,
how the blessed curse of a long lived life
is orphanhood, widowhood, watching
death collect the dust of all you love
and disperse it finely, neatly, evenly
among the floorboards of the house
you so so carefully constructed.
Still, I look down at my feet and hear
the rasp of silence turn into a rattle,
and imagine, no- know and see, the first
ghost folding itself into the yellow chair.