pic courtesy of Pinterest
A skeleton from the closet
Phoned the other day
One we thought had been
Securely locked away.
We tried to entice it
Cajole it back in
But that skeleton was
Determined to be seen.
For it had grown flesh
Learned how to live
And clearly would rattle
All the relatives.
This poem was written twenty years ago when first contact was made. It was more a ghost from the past than a skeleton but gradually over further calls it acquired structure and then one magic day it acquired corporeality. I was not there — my partner and I had split up — but I heard about it through others, including my children. Then just last week over New Year we met. This wonderful, warm person is now a part of my life. Thanks to the Marriage Equality Act She is getting married soon to her partner of eighteen years. She thanked me for keeping the lines of communication open and hope alive.
ps that third line in the second stanza still is not right
*have you ever had a skeleton from the closet visit you?
It was like something from the Marie Celeste
the remnants of a meal — the last supper?
a half full stubbie of Fosters, tele still on:
‘A Current Affair’ with Tracey at the helm —
he never would have left Tracey in the lurch —
car keys still on the mantelpiece, signs
of a scuffle in the hall, the whiff of a cigarette
in the doorway but no note, nothing — and then
that call from the watchhouse:, cold & bleak
‘Your boarder, Adrian ….’
And the bees. You don’t see the bees amongst the trumpet flowers not even when they’re braying their beauty.
The creatures have abandoned us, Seb said.
And you don’t hear the rats anymore clattering in that small space behind the fridge where you can’t get at them. Nor the mice chittering in the corner.
The world’s gone quiet, Seb said. It’s like that film.
You know. ‘A Quiet Place’.
The wasps too. And the crows in their black leather jackets ….congregating like thugs at the back door. And making a racket. I kinda miss them.
Me too, said Seb.
And that stray cat with the asymmetric face. Why, even that plaster statue of old Rumpole doesn’t pee on the cobblestones on a full moon any more..
Not even the ghosts, sighed Seb. Not even the ghosts.
I was talking to my rarely glimpsed neighbour who was out the front doing the gardening.
We chewed the fat for a while
and then I asked him about Gus, his elderly Jack Russel.
He doesn’t annoy you. does he? He asked.
Not at all, I said. I’m a dog person.
Well, he annoys the hell out of me, he said. The other day he was barking at the dining room wall and wouldn’t stop. There was nothing there.
Apparently, they see ghosts, I said. Even in the dark.
He stopped raking.
Or he has dementia? He offered.
Wow! I said. That would open a can of worms. Think how many documented ghost sightings could be put down to dementia.
People don’t bark at walls, he said.
Not even if they’re barking mad? I said.
We both laughed uneasily.
He went back to his raking.
Inside, the dog barked.
I passed the old Drive-In, the one we used to go to when I was a kid, that time we saw ‘Giant’, for instance, on the giant tilted screen, and I wanted to be cool and edgy as James Dean, and how after the movie when we were driving home around midnight, we heard on he radio that a plane had just fallen from the sky during a snowstorm over a corn field in Iowa and a chill filled our car the day the music died.
which movie star did you want to be like when you were a kid?
did you watch movies at drive-ins with your folks? do you remember any particular film?
what were you doing when you heard about the deaths of Buddy Holly, the Big Bopper and Richie Valens?
What are we even doing here?
You took us from the cool supermarket shelves and abandoned us on this warm table.
Because some kids might rock up on Halloween and say “Trick or Treat?” and you don’t want to come across as the bad guy.
Well, take a look around. No one’s knocked.
What are you going to do with us? You don’t even like chocolate.
Oh God, you’re not going to dump us, are you? Can we appeal to your better nature and take us back to the supermarket? They’ll be glad to see us.
Wait. Did you hear that? There’s a knock at the door. I see three goblins peering through the window. They’re for us.