A second draft, shared with The Mag.
THIS EMPTY HOUSE
Back against the paneled door, I’m assuming
solitude. But glim reveals high corners webbed
with diaphragms of cotton bedsprings, cargo-nets
of gossamer and spiders’ landing gear, all coiled
and whorled, gone to dust and hair, like ghost
owl-pellets. And here the paper husks of wasps,
skin-winged, curled into themselves, against
the thick, occluded windows, streaked and crazed
like mother-of-pearl or frozen albumen, these
phantom panes. And moth-powder, stirring as I
shift, twisting in fumes, caught in striped light.
I breathe it in, this narcotic, silvering the oxygen,
breathe deep its vinegar dust. Now I am
master of stairwell, kicking the years out of the
naked risers as I rattle through the territory
like a hot ungodly wind. I straddle doorways,
arms and legs frozen into star-jump crucifixions.
I ring each hollow room like a dim bell,
wordless first, then with the surety of my name,
its plosives booming off the plaster and the lath.
And then my name falling into a mockery of itself,
its syllables gibbered, dwarfed by a silence
infinitely large, like deep water, lightless, pitch-
heart black. So, my breath on a tether, I fumble
one door and another until brash summer sun
tugs me into the long grass, to the cricket’s
clatter, birds’ wings wheeling close and the
slow, untroubled breathing of the open world.