That shabby old house by the lake:
green flaking paint, trees tucked
so close the trunks shoulder up,
the roof encrusted with many
seasons of leaf-fall. A nice lot—
two hundred feet of lakefront
behind that fringe of brier and shrub.
Of course it’s haunted. Why else
trespass in those dank gray rooms?
Look at how the sofa slouches
below that amateur painting
of sheep mowing a bristly meadow.
Sniff the thick air and appreciate
the mold and mildew that smother
the reek of excrement. You shudder
because in your native land one
expects to find a corpse or two
brewing behind the furniture.
Here the dead keep their distance
and only their stories remain
to bore us. Yes, that’s a face
peering from the dark at the top
of the stairs. We won’t go up there.
That face has retained that fixed gaze
for many years. Maybe a ghost,
maybe a living person annoyed
by our presence. Let’s go outside
and consolidate our psyches.
The stink of this interior
both depresses and exhilarates.
Look back at the upstairs window.
Note how dark and smoky it looks.
Good thing the trees fence this house
so closely. We wouldn’t want it
to drift even a few yards further
for fear it would poison the lake.