by Christeene Fraser
“He’s right there Mommy,” she says, “Behind you!”
I turn and see framed crayon pictures of yellow flowers,
stuffed rabbits nibbling carrots sewn to their paws.
“The man is sick,” she tells me, “He’s mean!”
My daughter, the clairvoyant—should have named
her Cassandra. I tell her it’s not nice to fib to her mama,
recalling the light left on in the basement, skin pimpling
from the rush of cold pulling the cord.
Maybe this house ghost of ours rocks in the
corner chair, remembering the heat of July when
he strangled his Dolores in the sewing room, before
he swallowed a barrel, whole, like a ripe banana.
Maybe in the dark he whispers his secret in
my daughter’s ear so that she cannot sleep,
or dreams of death. Perhaps he is angry that
we have painted his walls a shocking cobalt.
Or maybe this house ghost of ours, ‘the Man’ (we’ve named him),
is truly harmless and only watches in the shower while
I lather my hair, and maybe he slides the conditioner closer
to me when I’m blinded by soap and cannot see.
I tell her not to be afraid. I tell her to sleep,
that she is safe in my care; like all parents.
Like all lies.
For One Shot Wednesday