Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Old House by the Lake


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.