You’d expect a specter to haunt by pewter moonlight.
Yet today I roam the September sunlit halls of what remains.
Six brick stories. A hundred thousand stories more within,
so much smoldering antiseptic smoke escaping holes
where windows and doors once latched.
Ivy and spiders where nurses once made rounds.
Late summer light radiates through wrecked angles into silent corridors.
Rusted wheelchair. Water fountain. Shred of curtain beaten by breeze.
Amid the ruin, an empty nursery where
chattering family and church folk would
wave and coo to unaware newborns as they wailed alive.
Rows of bassinets now cracked, in shadow, lined up like a lost little infantry.
I am the only ghost here.
Still, through broken rafters comes the hum of a familiar lullaby.
A flock erupts into cracks of sky.
Some inner sanctums waft with mildewed pews and
bittersweet phosphorous of spoiled rose perfume.
But here, the fabric softener blooms from
freshly laundered corduroy and Fruit of the Loom.
Five-drawered dresser stuffed with size 10
socks; shelf ablaze with Judy Blume.
The chamber’s papered walls peel back from plaster,
sloughing like the skin of a long-gone resident whose
god died, too—maybe buried in the backyard garden
beside other rodents someone loved enough to name.
A toy box entombs creatures that await the
son’s return, but he isn’t coming back for them, not soon.
Instead, his stereo sings praise to adolescent idolatry,
its abominable Madonna knows exactly what to coo.
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