some old bastard from olden days,
mostly hanging out in the basement, by the water softener.
Many times I stopped my stuffed animal games mid-sentence and froze.
"Get the fuck out," he'd say by turning the air thick and heavy
like green sky late on an April afternoon.
I'd take the slime-colored linoleum stairs two at a time,
my tail on fire, a little spark in a hurry to hit the sky.
Oh god oh god oh god...but no god down there.
Upstairs, better wear a parka, better be a hidden rabbit
if my mother was in one of her silent rages.
She didn't like imperfections, and there I was, made of them.
Daddy's books were birds that flew off the shelves
into my hands. "What's this one?" I'd ask
a million times and always got an answer.
When they got divorced, the dead man came upstairs;
He'd crawl up my back sending every hair on end,
then clatter the cutlery in the kitchen when nobody else was home.
My father had taken his books and a second wife.
My mother's parents had just died, and she'd had to get a job at fifty-five.
After she tried to kill herself and failed, she switched to me.
I wouldn't die, though;
there were enough pissed-off ghosts there,
and so I made the world my basement stairs and ran.
For "The House That Built You" at Real Toads.