The ghost of 34 Howard Lane

Celeste Rose Wood

Featured image: Hollyhocks © A. Anupama 2017


I still like the bathtub. Sometimes
his new wife runs the water,
leaves the room. I crawl in
and float for a moment like a drip
of candle wax. She comes back,

looks in the mirror, poking
the pouches under her eyes.
I stand behind her dripping
what I suspect is spectral

water, my skin speckled
with goose pimples, my nipples
tiny, constricted. When I touch her
she won’t feel it. On Wednesdays

I go to matinees and don’t
have to pay. I walk through doors
without opening them, but look for empty
seats. What I regret is my inability
to eat popcorn. Most of what

I read is over shoulders
at someone else’s pace. What I miss
more than sex is sleeping. I tell time now

by my husband’s first and second coffees,
his watched news cycles, topography
of his sighing. Clock hands
jitter like marionette legs,
more spastic the closer to them

I stand. I’ve considered a spyglass
like an old sailor. Some days I comb
the antique curiosities. Binoculars would be
gauche. Sundays I go shopping for evening

gowns, try them on by stepping
into the centers of them. I can’t
take them with me, but some weeks

there’ll be one flecked with rhinestones
the size of cherry pits, the fit
of the bodice just right to constrict my chest.