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Monday, February 16, 2009

War's Heir

“One need not be a chamber to be haunted, one need not be a house.”
-Emily Dickinson

Everything is haunted. I walk past the schoolyard, past the playground. Past the crumbling brick wall that once held encroaching woods at bay. I see the ghosts of the players, in the basketball winding across the court and the scattering leaves chasing one another. I feel the spirit of the children who roamed these fields shouting, whispering, tagging and hugging each other through the hints of fall, the whistling winter and the spring’s rain. Recess never demurred.

In the wind’s rush around the school building, I hear the morning notes of the band tuning up. In the babble of the boundary stream, I hear the engines of the yellow diesel buses, come to take us home.

In the silence, I hear my eternal past.

In the dilapidated walls of the building, ivy pushes mortar apart from brick. I open the blue door, whose rectangular panel of cross-hatched glass is blown out. The door swings wide, willingly, its spring disabled. My hand crashes into the wall.

Rubble steeps either side of the hallway. There are holes in the ceiling—no, vast surface areas of light illuminating the corridors. The mural once depicting black, brown, and pale students is charred beyond recognition. Underneath an overturned desk lie green shards of a chalkboard. Pythagoras outlined in yellow. Remarkably, the doormats are pristine, undisturbed.

I freeze. Yes, haunting is everywhere. There is a need for flight. Still frozen, I can only turn and gaze through the door into the field, past the asphalt and the brick wall, toward the stream.

Waiting to crumble to dust.

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