The haunted house does not require a history, but it needs a mouth:
a previous, innocent tenant, someone to live to tell the tale.
I can speak for its corners. Very lean and fine, alien landscapes
of plateaus and dead red rivers spilling out behind, smoke of past lives
burned and rising as dust motes after the blaze,
tinted visions preening in the half light. Dusk falls
and the house is no longer yours. Now the blurry blue darkness.
Now you are here, onscreen in a dream for two seconds. You linger
in my mind, ghost image. Kitchen wraith. Filtering through the shadows
cast by corners. If life is in the living room, everything else is in the attic.
I never talk about the basement. Houses are not built—
they are dreamed. The baby sees the ghost in the television and cries.
The afterlife invades our cookouts, ectoplasm oozing onto the lawn.
I can only manage one layer of life at a time. I keep my dead neat.
Problems only arise when dimensions overlap. Order is key. Burial grounds
and playgrounds. You, in the back of my mind. Everything in its place.
It’s always the best part.
Phenomenal growth observed
in stages, a waterfall of consequences
clear as projector slides
trapped between the glass. If this,
then this. First the child
then the monster, or reverse,
the woman then the geese
and then the werewolf hunting us all
before sliding fitfully into the pond sludge,
radioactive river beast, biding its time
among the slugs and sewage.
Gill slits and webbed feet. Stuck between bodies,
an evolution of our meddling. It’s additive.
A superhero never assumed strength
by losing. Or, reverse,
a monster who became human
by cutting off one of his heads.
These are the spliced beasts, the not-quite-us
creatures we might become. Transformation
can be deduction. Ant bites.
Full moons. Muscle aches and avalanches.
The curtain in my bedroom, drawn back
a little further every night.
Carolyn Supinka is the author of the chapbook Stray Gods (2016, Finishing Line Press) and is a writer and visual artist living in Portland, Oregon. Her work has been published most recent in Sonora Review, Peach Mag, and The Recluse, and is forthcoming in DIAGRAM. You can view her writing and art here.