Monday, November 14, 2011

Ghosts

By John Middlebrook

When we moved from our old home,
     we thought our memories moved with us.

Still curious, one day, we stop for a look.

We see the new owners
have made it all different,
and we shake our heads in disbelief.

Through the windows, in the willow,
we see their kids playing—
unaware, no doubt, of the very best limbs.

Outside, we whisper
and sidestep their prunings.
We are amazed at how small
            it all has become.

Their son, a toy cowboy,
grabs his lasso
      and plastic play gun.
He claims we never lived there;
      we agree and move on.

Like a somber procession of grainy photos
we carry away our remains within us.
We are migrating spirits
tethered together by a story as shared
      as the air that we breathe.

Up the road, we look back,
and through a keyhole we see
that the place we once lived
      is no longer there.

It slips like a dream
into the maze of memory.
There, it keeps our common past.

Its dormant scent lingers
with artifacts left in trunks
      and envelopes of lace -
the traces of what we were,
      and what we hoped to be.

John Middlebrook lives in Bucks County, Pennsylvania, where he manages a consulting firm focused on non-profit organizations. He has been writing poetry since he was a graduate student at the University of Chicago, where he also served on the poetry staff of Chicago Review. His work has appeared in Writers' Bloc, Foundling Review, and Yes, Poetry, and he can be found on the web here.

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