She Keeps His Ghost Around the House

by Neil Barrett

She Keeps his Ghost around the House
See her head gently convulse,
the subtle twitch,
as if
the air conditioned cold could rustle all of her
more than it does
these store-bought flower’s drying leaves.
The petals have already lost all feeling,
but she still hears him in her sleep.

She asks for him.

The nurses tell me when he passed that she still argued
with the pictures of him
on her walls,
complained that he had left her here
with bills and aches,
dishes mixed with unrelenting pains.

Now, no anger’s left.

The TV's on.

The knowledge that he's gone sings like a snake from other rooms.
Looking at the apple trees they planted
in the yard, she tells him,
Save a couple jars before the Fall
to make       preserves.

It’s possible the dead do sing
more to the body than the mind,
tightening the eyelids,
loosening the skin or whistling through bone.

If she could really hear him sing,
one last time,
I bet she’d tell him every step
that only cowards
try to make it down to hell

all on their own.