Last Ghost in the House

chamber music
alto flute, bass clarinet, horn, percussion (marimba, suspended cymbal, finger cymbals), piano, violin, viola, cello, bass

Premiere announced:
Helix Collective presents Pulling Back the Curtain - March 16, 2019


Watch the premiere:


It was too painful to say goodbye,
and with barely a glance at the place,
the empty house, well,
empty except for one thing,
you drove away.

The furniture and dishes,
pictures of the lake, and silver dollars
distributed evenly,
as carefully as years ago
M&M's divided amid eager delight.

All those seasons we spent,
our footfalls, running, laughing,
the endless potential of summer became
autumns of long shadows and raked leaves,
became shorter still,
the city, frozen,
until the icy darkness melted into
the embrace of a bright and muddy spring,
a house thawed, ready to do it all again.

All I had learned beneath that roof,
hours spent at the piano in repetition,
trying to break through
my technical limitations,
trying to achieve knowledge
I too-eagerly sought,
a common thread though
my youthful victories and tragedies,
my philosophical and romantic awakening
to despair and resignation,
my stunted prayers and most secret,
darkest thoughts, all took place
in just a few small square rooms.

All the laughter and tears
smeared into the wallpaper,
itself a fraught choice,
now evaporated by time,
withered from neglect.
anger, faded,
and fantasies, lost
at the bottom of
poorly hidden
plastic liquor bottles.

How welcome is the silence,
the weight of inhabitants lifted,
after decades of intersecting lives,
complex and visceral,
full of mistakes,
and love.

Everything vanished
in a matter of days,
and the house settled,
prepared to become
a memory for everyone.

Even before you left,
you started to forget
how the floorboards creaked
by the phone desk,
the bright blue wall hidden shamefully
beneath beige and pink folk-art bouquets,
the lonely stillness of late afternoon,
filled only by the ticking of the clock,
until it, too, yielded to time
it could no longer keep.

Now, at this last interstitial moment,
I am the last ghost in the house,
moving through each room, like the air,
the silence vibrating with the
thinness of the veil,
the last echoes fading into
freshly painted corners.
Because this ghost is a being,
very much alive. The dead
leave behind only memories and regrets,
and that is what haunts the living.

Maybe I do believe
in reincarnation, of a sort.
We cannot become a new thing
until we cease to be all that we were,
our old life stripped to the studs,
tenets of familiarity, but underneath,
new, full of strangers
cheerfully unaware of the memories
that lingered in the walls.

A child looks upon a house
for the first time,
possibly unable to see
its former life,
then again,
a faint,