Homebody, Homespirit – Lauren Scharhag

Sweetly she haunts,

a toothless ghost.  I catch her

hiding in smoke from the old stove;

a scent like toasted chilies in sweet oil

she loved so much, and a flavor like scorched bacon

coats my throat. 

 

Opening and closing

the ball fringe curtains, tending

pink flowers in pots on the porch, tiny, bent,

slow, one of those old ladies who knew the art of being

frail as a posy,

 

Indomitable as oak.

She said, “When I die, hija,

burn me and throw me in the back yard.

I want to be home.”

 

Her jewelry

still turns up in odd places:

china teacups, the medicine chest, and other

curious bits: a coin purse full of bobby pins,

a tube of lipstick under the mattress, a wad of bills

in the laundry soap.   

 

Bottles of homemade wine

on backroom shelves under dust,

a holdover from when her mother-in-law ran bootleg,

brewing beer and bathtub gin, but here are no other ghosts,

only her memories that were her own,

now going.

 

I want to be home, too,

with my urn on a shelf in the kitchen,

and a pile of stemmed chilies beside my plate.

Previously published in Scharhag's self-published poetry collection, West Side Girl & Other Poems (2013).

Lauren Scharhag (she/her) is an associate editor for GLEAM: Journal of the Cadralor, and the author of thirteen books, including Requiem for a Robot Dog (Cajun Mutt Press) and Languages, First and Last (Cyberwit Press). Her work has appeared in over 150 literary venues around the world. Recent honors include the Seamus Burns Creative Writing Prize and multiple Best of the Net and Pushcart Prize nominations. She lives in Kansas City, MO. To learn more about her work, visit: www.laurenscharhag.blogspot.com.