Now the Present Ghosts

If you walked through the front door with the thumb latch key&
Took a right you’d walk into the living room & continue on &
With a left turn but before the bedroom there were stairs.

Up the worn wooden stairs & there were rooms of equal
Size to the east and the west, sparely furnished &
In a closet in the east room where my Father’s uniform hung
Staff Sergeant, Eisenhower jacket & campaign ribbons on the front

Through the hall a door closed on the attic
That ran the width of the upstairs, & if you opened the
Door a window from the south kept it pretty hot
I would play in the attic when it was cool
I remember finding Indian head pennies under loose
Floor boards, I can’t remember any of the contents of
The attic, boxes, I suppose, it was not empty & the
Smell was clean & warm & the two rooms of
The upstairs seemed strange then no one ever slept there
There were dressers with no clothes and the east room
Was a scintillating white..

That no one was ever there, or ever slept there
In the years I lived in this house, haunts me now
As it did not then, the presentiment of what was to come
I suppose, for years left a hollow place—that I’d be an orphan at nine,

Kidnapped to Oregon by a kindly aunt & uncle, then
My father dead in 1964, my brother in 1970 & no way home,
Uprooted from  southeast Kansas, with
Slow running Walnut River,  the Island Park & the east room white walls
Are now the present ghosts from when that house
Bore relevant to me lives, & heard  my Grandmother singing arias,
In tune with radio opera, or an old cowboy song & I remember
A smell my father’s boots as I longed for his coming home hour, every day, when work boots &
Clothes came off on the back porch, & after a bath & dinner,
His good humor returned, to ply our presence & evensong sufficed

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