In my house are other houses,
Other lives than mine,
Their images, ghostly, arouse
The senses;
Spur the mind
To seek their source
And contemplate beginnings.
Their beginnings and mine.

My house is old
And whispers in the night
Like long-dead children—
I hear them pattering
In the kitchen,
Giggling like small witches
As my ancient clock tolls the time.
I let them play
As I listen from my bed—
They had so little time to play,
They are such a long time dead—
During the day
They occupy corners
And rooms just left by me;
The former occupants
Of chairs I own,
Sit and rock and remember—

I wish to know them.

Their reflections cast shadows
On my table, a century old,
Their restless hands, now cold,
Have marred the finish I cherish,
Scarred the top with flower bowls
Filled with marigolds and lilac,
Drooping with pale, soft asters,
Gay with daisies—
Faces like plaster images
Around my table.
Hungry faces–waiting—
And I would feed them,
Were I able.
I ignore their movements.
The toy horse left rocking;
The lamp shade askew;
The brass eagle knocking at my door;
The fire renewed;
And those slow, tired footsteps
On my floor—every night at ten.
Why footsteps just at ten?
It′s kinder to pretend
I do not hear;
It′s their house too—
Their furniture,
Their land,
Their view from the large rear window—
It is not entirely mine.
I cannot own memories, love,
Unbearable fears
They once had;
They once had.
And so I borrow,
Use the things they lend to me;
I cannot refuse
Them entry—how can I?
When they have shown me
Other houses—
Told me their gentle secret—

“ You do not weep alone—
You do not die alone.”