On the trampled path

curving between lawns

to the house I once loved,

I hear wind ceaselessly slam

a forgotten screen door.


There’s a tiny thumbprint

in a dried mustard stain

on the scratched kitchen counter,

an old milk puddle

clouding the floor tile,

and I try to find

something in them.


Cobweb and half charred log

lay suspended in fireplace ash;

the antique rocker

I finished one summer

leans on a broken strut.


Before the monster came,

on these walls we hung

paintings and prints,

each one a discovery

we saluted with goblets.


Once a month at least,

we rearranged furniture,

changed wallpaper on a whim,

mixing and matching patterns

for the most majestic scene.


Our Christmas trees were works of art,

ornaments hand made and lively;

their lights flashed fresh hope and cheer

to circles of gifts, meticulously wrapped.


Here, on the bottom of a staircase

where his stutter began,

the boy sat waiting,

shoes perfectly tied

for the promised excursion

that was always cancelled.


Here, I watched the girl

suffocate her smile,

turn her face to the wall

suffering her shadow,

pray to be someone else

in another place.


The dog became allergic

and there were nightmare cries

in brightly painted rooms.


Gone now the schizophrenic wife,

gone son, daughter and dog.

I leave through the kitchen,

switch off the lights,

lock the door behind me.

The real estate lady has a key.

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