(Painting by Deena Warner)
The Knockings on the Walls
We have ghosts in the house, Poppa always
They tap walls at night like soft broomsticks,
They rap at the doors, unlocked and open as a bride on wedding night,
Shadows tar the closet door and I think of demons dancing, as the fists
of light rock them in the very still two-thirty five in the morning
In my room, the night cackled and the shadows crossed the windows like
Mommy and Poppa were in the next room,
Two dead sparrows in a palm of white sheets.
Could I dare to inch across the hall?
Where the Whiteface man was, could I dare Satan?
Satan, whose hands were locked around my knees, Satan by the white curtain,
Satan by the desk, Satan drifting across my framed baby picture,
The one where I’m in the yellow dress.
‘Our Father, who art in Heaven, Hollow be thy name,’
It was supposed to hallowed but I always said hollow because I didn’t
I didn’t know what either word meant,
Then I pray to the Virgin Mary who has fruit in her womb,
Melons, strawberries, apples, I wonder,
Is it refrigerated so it won’t go bad?
When I see Satan in dreams he is always red, his skin has been boiled,
Hell has a lot of tunnels and caves and furry damp places, where demons
Hell is a red place, always red, the light is red, the water is the
blood of the sinners, who cry Jesus, save us!
Hell looks like the inside of my mouth,
It has a hanging claw at the black entrance.