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Friday, October 13, 2017

Cherry Grove

Cherry Grove: A Ghost Tale

All around the old place,
the dead visit. The
day he opened up the trunk

of that sweetgum tree,
and before we saw the
horseshoe hanging inside,

something brushed against
my face. I heard a nickering
far away, and the smell of oiled

leather and candlewax.
A few days later Lloyd
found an anvil half

inside an oak tree, back
by the old barn. It was ten
feet up that tree, and

the color of storm clouds
when the air smells like metal
and electricity breaks

it right in two. They say
a shipwright lived
there once. I know.

I've heard him hammering.
That was before the rumor 
of the slave revolt across 

the road. Nineteen men killed, 
tortured, all for the sake 
of a child's tale. A child

named Obey. No excuses.
The crape myrtle we cleared from
the back forty bled claret-

colored sap, and stuck inside
one old, stubborn knot
was a skeleton key.

The silver lying all around,
tarnished forks and bone-
china plates. Papa said

she burnt that house a’purpose,
took the tram to the train
and left town. Nobody

Ever saw her again.
But to be frank, I don't
believe it.

I saw her walking in the fog
one morning, early. Picking bones,
rearranging bricks,

breaking twigs over and over.
She saw me too.
We've been talking

back and forth, she and I,
between the branches.

~ Elodie Pritchartt