for Henry


In this quiet house
electricity drips from the fixtures,
ghost of Muggs threatens to bite.
One bedroom smells of camphor,
and in the garden a Unicorn
browses among stone bloodhounds.
Can you still name some towns in New Jersey?

I gave you Thurber in the womb:
the book balanced on my belly
those long hot nights in our ninth month.
You grew to completion shaken
by my laughter at his disastrous times;
among your first words, his fables,
captions of cartoons.

Will our house one day resound with ghosts,
as here:   Grandfather brandishing his sword,
the bed falling on Father,
night alarms in the twisty upstairs hall.

What of our life removed by time
will make the others laugh?
The way I shrieked and ran from moths,
the werewolf who woke you at midnight,
Dad’s “Checkerboard” pronouncement in his sleep?
Mouse parts in your bed,
that fetid moose antler,
wasps between the walls,
our dog Louise who talked to stones.

October 1, 2004