At Night, the Dead
By Nicole J. LeBoeuf
At night, the dead come out
of your walls. They’re breathing again.
You watch them breathe, jealous of
their easy use of lungs. Your father’s breath
failed when his lungs turned black,
unable to eke one more inhalation
out of what should have been a rich seam.
In this house, he would find a chance
to breathe again, just for the night.
He is not here.
At night, the dead enter
your hallways. They’re pacing up and down.
You watch them waiting for all the things
that never waited for them. Your sister waited,
arriving with ten minutes to spare,
laid herself down to rest
in peace. The train did not wait.
It proceeded down the tracks
on schedule. Now you wait
for your sister.
She is not here.
At night, the dead use
the furniture. They’re settling in.
You watch them crawl over the carpets,
gather at the table, and sink
with audible sighs into
your grandfather’s plaid upholstered
armchair, fingering the round little
cigarette burns in the armrests
just like you used to do
as a child.
Your grandfather is not here.
His absence haunts you
as none of these ghosts do.
You host them. It is your job.
Wherever you reside, your home is theirs
for the night, for their nightly
holding pattern, a hole in which
the world buries
And every ghost that ever was,
except those few,
they come out of your walls,
they pace your goddamn halls,
and not a single one
belongs to you.
Nicole J. LeBoeuf’s poetry has appeared in Eternal Haunted Summer and The Macabre Museum, and her short stories in such venues as the
vampirism anthology Blood and Other Cravings and the horror magazine NAMELESS Digest. Originally from New Orleans, she continues attempting to grow okra and mirliton despite having moved to Boulder, Colorado. She skates roller derby under the name “Fleur de Beast”.