Sure there is something in me that needs
to resolve the mystery of the scratching in the wall,
the footsteps on the stairs, the baby crying,
the screams, the piano playing in the parlor at midnight.
But there is another side to my psyche
that fears the implications, that prefers
the unknown keep its distance,
not bother my sleep with its constant demented clues.
So what if, in these very rooms, a mother once smothered a child,
or a man knifed his wife, or a woman was locked in the attic —
surely there’s some of that in the history of every house.
We’re human aren’t we. We smother, we knife, we lock away.
Of course, this house has been in my family for generations.
The eeriness, the sense of dread,
are as much a part of me as ancestral blood.
I am the child of whatever ghoulish acts were perpetrated here,
But I live alone. I bother no one and no one bothers me.
No wife, no offspring, I am the end of the line.
Madness and fever, fear and hate:— they haunt borrowed time.
When I die, the deaths die with me.
John Grey is an Australian poet, US resident. Recently published in
That, Dunes Review, Poetry East and North Dakota Quarterly with work
upcoming in Haight-Ashbury Literary Journal, Thin Air, Dalhousie
Review and Failbetter.