UNDERGROUND VOICES: POETRY

CRAIG SHAY

WIDOW OF CATHERINE STREET

She rotted in her house for weeks before anyone found her body.

A neighbor caught wind of the odor emanating down the block
and eventually called the police.

When they excavated the catacombs of her dilapidated house,
they found her body; a large white marshmallow inside a light blue gown.

I remembered her – staring through her screen door – waiting.

The adults on the street said she was a madcap –
They said she had not left her home in almost thirty years.

They called her ‘the puffy hemorrhoid on the ass of our working class neighborhood.’

Her property was a disaster.
Vines ran wild, branches splintered, and the bushes never pruned,
and in the middle was a tiny red house with peeling paint,
that was slowly being eaten by greenery.

From the door-stoop, I caught a foul funk, a smell of loneliness, of awful regret, and hopelessness. Somewhere among the rubble inside was an unkempt human, toiling about in the muck of the mind.

By nightfall, while our families’ crowd around illuminated TV sets, with the shining faces of sitcom stars, her house was the one on the block absent of light and laughter.

When the police broke in, they found her dead, in a waterlogged recliner. Her body had been bloated in the July heat so long, that when they tried to move it, the skin fell apart, like a moldy tomato, spilling out all over the floor, and making the stench of death stagnate for weeks to come.

A year later, machines came in and demolished the house leaving the property vacant, except for the rats, which were breeding under the house for decades.

After another year, a smiling nuclear family of four purchased the property, and built a giant six-bedroom palace, complete with all modern luxuries. Every night the windows illuminated with the glow of the television sets.

Somehow, the residue of the old widow remains, like an unshakable nightmare; or a scar ready to open again and drool hot puss on the floor. Every hot July you can still smell her presence – lingering in the air.

            Mea culpa, mea culpa, mea culpa.


Craig Shay lives in Long Island, NY. He has had poems published in the Bitter Oleander, Skidrow Penthouse, Counterexample Poetics, and the American Dissident. Samples of his poetry are available at www.craigshay.wordpress.com







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