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Haunted House

ISSUE:  Summer 2019

I moved into the haunted house
and gutted it to the bones. I wasn’t alone then,

and worked there as a team. 
We evicted squirrels from their vast nutshell nest,

filled dumpsters with fifty years of trash. 
I found three lit and ornamented trees in a pile of brush, 

uncovered secret drawings in a drawer. 
We tore up a floor to uncover a floor,

sanded tulip poplar to a sheen. I let
the others unhouse the rat snake 

muscled around the boiler pipes downstairs.
They took it in a pail to Corlaer’s Creek

where it braided angrily away. I too
slithered in the muddy crawlspace, 

headlamp sputtering with sweat. 
When the house began to wake

the strangers began to arrive, driving their cars
up our long drive to have a proper snoop.

Uninvited, they told of Dutch Mary 
rocking in her scarf, dead slaves 

buried in a hollow up the hill, the wellhead 
by the Indian trail where carriages stopped

to let their long-dead horses have a drink.
If you think this scared me, you’d be wrong.

I know a story meant to frighten when I hear one.
Now I live here alone with the spirits I cannot see.

I spend my days inside these rubble stone walls
cooking small meals and stoking logs into a smoking stove

while around me history stills to pictures in a frame—
the same clouded view for Old Dutch Mary

waiting at the window once again.


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