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Lost childhood, grief, ghosts

Lost Childhood

I remember running up those cement steps to the white door,

a Grand Canyon smile splitting my face.

In my hand, a small balloon and scribbled birthday note,

in my heart, pure innocence.

Writhing in my bright blue shoes,

impatient and misunderstanding 

I stood in the silence of the unanswered door

waiting for the giant I loved to lift me

and kiss away the torment of first grade bullies.

When no one answered, my mother placed her worn key into the knob

unleashing the darkness of my father’s life,

staining my innocence

like merlot on a white gown. 

Down the hall I flew unknowingly 

on tattered wings buoyant by shattered dreams.

The door at the end of the hall ajar, 

the stale, musty air piercing my lungs

a single ray of light graced his cocoa face.

I stood there in the jamb

grasping to find the fault in the scene before me…


instead of snores. 


Pitter patter against the pane

in the hour when the milk-white moon

floats like whips above a smokestack.

I am brought to the backdoor of a house,

eerie and dim, the once familiar scent of lilies 

and exotic Indian oils fermented into pain.

Shadows crouch, sneer, torment, and cajole

as I walk the house of memories.

Orange curtains, red couch, lone chair.

The shadows crowd insistently, 

their inky tendrils hairlike against my neck. 


Turn to sobs.

Unbearable, hardly survivable. 


like a leaf under heavy tread, I rise to see her

shimmering, expelling the darkness with her light.

In her native tongue she speaks:

Ich Liebe Dich

her radiance burning bright,

like a dying star, a supernova 

encompassing me with love.

In the hour when the milk-white moon

shrouds my sorrow with memories of her life;

love pitter-patters against the pain.


I see ghosts everywhere.

Of those I used to love.

In the watercolor sky and the looming pines.

In the skirt a stranger wears.

Apparitions show themselves in mischievous ways,

hidden in smiles and faces and laughs.

I’m haunted tirelessly by memories,

(eyes of brown, wrinkled hands, a velvet voice) 

despite my efforts to exorcise them from my brain.

Demons remain embedded in my soul,

I think I’ll keep them there forever:

for if I were to unleash their malevolence,

I could never get them back.

I see ghosts everyday,

in myself and the smiles I fake.

In unlit phones and the false hope that one day you might change.

I see you in your favorite things: Oreos and the color green,

a faded baseball cap and that cross-eyed toy Rottweiler we used to share.

I’ve become possessed by words unsaid, longing, and despair.

I don’t control myself anymore,

I see ghosts everywhere.

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