A letter came for someone who had lived here before. The ghost in hardwood. Cling wrap, incense sticks. I was new to it until I named it. The management of grasses. Termites. Taxes. I kept the rooted mulberry in short sale, the fence that had been rent for trespass of the dog, deer, the will of wandering. I put my stock in the extravagance of shelter, paint, roller, a new and stable ladder—the signature of habitation—though I was a phantom among phantoms. Another bin for the recyclables. To the left, the timers set. The pretense of a residence. To the right, the U-Haul idling. I got down on my hands and knees, the red eye of the tower pinging my existence. I dug beside the muted pink foreclosed to trees. The failed azaleas. Dark clouds mapped the progress of the crow in the beginning, the vagrant geese.
74 – October 2018
By Kathleen Hellen
Kathleen Hellen is the author of The Only Country was the Color of My Skin (2018), the award-winning collection Umberto’s Night and two chapbooks, The Girl Who Loved Mothra and Pentimento. Nominated for the Pushcart and Best of the Net, and featured on Poetry Daily, her poems have been awarded the Thomas Merton Prize in Poetry and prizes from the H.O.W. Journal and Washington Square Review. She has won grants from the Maryland State Arts Council and the Baltimore Office of Promotion & the Arts.