by Luke Salazar
Let Yourself Be Haunted
You'll want to throw the covers over your head,
bury yourself behind the pile of toys in the closet,
scurry beneath the bed to hide amongst the dust bunnies
as they waft, puzzled and forlorn, down the halls of the ICU,
emerge from the double-doors of the refrigerated trailers,
float through the rooftops of the care homes
toward the sun.
Throw open the doors of your heart, invite them inside.
Let them dwell upon your kindness for a while,
settle with a mug of tea in the kitchen of your sympathy,
warm their wispy hands by the fireside of compassion.
And when your guests begin to overstay their welcome,
self-protection will demand you bar the door, draw the curtains,
dim the lights, and shelter yourself in the shadows of apathy.
gently shoo them out the door with a wry smile and an inside joke.
Let them know they're welcome to return, if they need to...
but they have important places to go, so many things to see,
and a new home awaiting them
He's straightening the peppers.
Red and green and yellow
bells, ushered into perfect rows
by his large, methodical hands.
I don't know what a parsnip even looks like,
so I ask him where they are.
“It's raining outside,” he says to the peppers,
“It's raining and time for soup.”
“Hey, that is what it's for!” I say.
“Yep, we sell a lot of parsnips when it rains.”
He glances up at my eyes, and hurriedly away.
It dawns on me: he's autistic.
He shuffles over to a bin,
and picks up something like
an albino carrot on steroids –
hands it to me, walks away.
The card on the bin says Rutabegas –
but I don't doubt him for a moment.
When an autistic man says it's a parsnip,
it's a parsnip.
I think a moment about all of my bullshit.
The I'm pretty sures,
the I think thats,
the I heard somewheres,
and look down to find that my hands
are fluffing the kale,
stacking the collards,
perfect perfect perfect.
She's misplaced herself,
folded amongst the stale annals of photographs,
enshrouded by vermilion draperies,
drowned in the maw of a coffeepot.
She's buried somewhere,
beneath an aching mass of garden,
sealed in a creaking parquet floor,
tucked between the covenant of mattresses.
She's tangled and trussed,
wound in cerise coverlets,
lost in an aureate spiral,
noosed in labyrinths of lace.
But now, yes, again –
her siren mirror will summon her,
the harem of vials and jars
will coo their lustrous guiles,
then the clock crashes five
and her world cracks and tilts
at the thud of tumblers
in a lock.