This is my house. My sweat is in the mortar
& hewn wood. This garden of garlic blooms
is mine, too, said last night’s pale ghost.
I know every crack where cold & light
try to sneak in, & where the past tongues
& grooves the future. I own every rusty nail.
This fence wasn’t here when hobnailed boots
marched us into the night. I remember all
the cat-eye marbles would roll to this corner
of the kitchen. This tree limb my uncle cut
to make a witching rod. Here’s the mark
an anniversary candle left on the counter,
said the ghost, slowly fingering
the deep burn like an old wound.
Now, dirt-bike trails crisscross
the apple grove my father planted.
The goat tied beside the back gate
belongs to my progeny of beautiful
goats. You sold the mineral rights
under our feet, but the bird we hear
singing overhead in a Yiddish accent
owns the morning. These roses are mine
because I’ve walked through fire.
Go & tell your drinking buddies
& psychoanalyst, your neighbor
has risen from the ashes. I wonder
if I should tell you about the love letters
hidden behind the doorjamb. This house
still stands among my lavender flowers.
Tell your inheritors to think of me
when they smile up at the sky.
From Oxford Poetry Vol 13 No 1 (Spring 2009)