Ghost Stories (to be read to her child, at night)

She was watching from the window
Arms out, hanging from the ledge
Reaching toward me—
Your uncle was still an infant—
And when she stepped inside
I saw that I could see
Right through her
That was the first time

We’d been living upstairs
From a funeral home
For a summer
It was too hot to go outside
It was too hot to stay in

I saw her again
The same position
Clutching air
In each arm, cradling space

Another night I woke to find
A man, bald and mustached
Suspended inside the wall
He looked like he was choking

I recalled a boy
His face against the wooden floor
A sound like marbles dropping
When he’d bang his head
Throughout the hours
I lay awake, too mindful
To shut my eyes. We lived on

Water, we lived on spoiled rice
Cooked slow, stirred even
Slower, we lived on
Cabbage, couldn’t hardly
Make kapusta, gołąbki,
Couldn’t hardly
Get milk unless it was post-dated
Unless we waited
That long, we gathered
Change on the street,
See a penny
Pick it up
We huddled close
And bathed fast

We kept on
Seeing strangers
Every evening
We were never lonely

Counting the hours
The before and the after
Touch, trembling along
The walls, I thought I’d never leave
Brooklyn, I thought I’d never
Be anyone but the girl
In slip-ons and gray stockings

On a stoop
On Diamond Street
So many afternoons
I watched the windows
I watched the people inside
Hungry all the time