Palimpsest

It’s time to leave the screaming sirens,
the grime and the stench behind.
Her important papers, other bits of junk,
last few boxes, secure in the trunk,
no doubts, no regrets, her mind
made up; she bids adieu to jaded environs.

Country roads, creeks and meadows,
with lakes and streams at every mile
of the lazy turns in the Appalachian Trail,
showing tackle, bait and antiques on sale.
Shining eyes, bright smile,
full of hope, her pleasure grows.

She’s moving to a house built
in 1883, that’s nestled in a valley,
and a copse of old oak trees. Walls
of ivy beckon, the chimney smoke calls,
“Come inside dear, fall in love madly,
with the halls, the walls, and the sonorous lilt,

of the whispering shadows”. They’re lying
in eternal wait for just such
an unsuspecting visitor who would glean
their anguish, hear their tortured screams;
for this house of 1883 has seen much
grief , loss, death and incessant crying.

The house is elegant, the settings ideal,
a “fixer-upper” they’d said, at the price
of a steal. She is eager to fix and renovate,
all the breaks she’s spotted in her life of late.
So she signs the deal, against all advice,
trades her old life for a place to heal.

She clears the cobwebs, gets a fire roaring
at the hearth, wraps herself in a blanket,
slipping into a languid trance. Dreams
of dances and lavish soirees, suddenly screams
rent the air – a death at the banquet –
utter confusion, commotion, guests fleeing!

Startled awake, wondering what she witnessed
– a waking nightmare, an optical illusion?
It looked so real, unfolding before her!
Days turn to months, she sees them gather,
each time death, illness, tragic hallucinations,
bring her to her knees and leave her distressed.

This house has a history, several layers deep,
generations of tragic souls that can’t find rest,
and crowd her space , just as she feels
she inhabits theirs. Their past reveals,
her unfolding future, just like a palimpsest,
reveals each concealed layer underneath.

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