Monday, February 13, 2006

A Quiet Generation

Still I can hear your heartbeat when you lean over my shoulder.

The former owners of this house, they say, died in it. After living here a quiet generation, their kids all grown and moved out, one year much like the next. And now we are moving toward being the old couple in the old house. Moss grows on the roof. An old carousel-horse is so buried under long matted grass, by the back-yard fence, that it can be neither seen nor easily removed. Once our kids played on it.

Your breasts rest lightly against my shoulder and the nape of my neck, as you reach past me to lift a bowl from the table.

The neighbors' youngest son -- the one who visits home occasionally from college now -- asked you, not long after we moved in, with wide eight-year-old eyes, if it wasn't spooky to live in a house someone had died in. You laughed and said no. Most old houses, you said, someone has died in, at some point. You grew up in the house your grandparents died in.

You didn't say, but you could have, that what's spooky is a house that no one's died in, no proper house but a campsite. What's spooky is a people who can't hold still long enough to bury their dead.

I lean my head back against the softness, and listen. The distant, resonant beat.

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