Under Houses

Who knew such delicate things could spit such necromancy,
I mean a wedding dress in a basement. It breathed
through its plastic skin, coated with a layer
of dust and asbestos. Plaster it bore
dropped from stubborn beams, gypsum
from an old ceiling, shaken out
with the carefulness of grudgework
in a small town with straightjacket lives,
by all those muffled earthquakes, tinny years.
Heavy shoes walked over a headless ghost
whose waist or wait would never give an iota.
From an old heaven above, where they lived,
or rather its underside, erosion below their feet,
gerrymandering ceiling of cracks, it took
its look like history. Something old: a recoil
of a gun, dream-kicking the observer
back to an age that pretended gilding,
whose women would often hang
waiting their whole lives, as if the stars
moved them on tracks like figures
in a medieval clock.  Drugged.
The dress had weirdly hung its promise
of nearly royal treatment in whose
snailshell years beyond knowing:
did it come true? Something new:
a shuddering sense of someone
buried alive down there, breathing,
starving for life, waiting to emerge,
a boil under Alencon lace and seed pearls
still weirdly optimistic, young,
something like a paper doll
whose child died a century ago
wanting you, wanting anyone,
an invitation to undo, redo.
Its own dead body was no concern
to its ambition, its (              ) form.
Something borrowed: a ghost in you,
the observer underground,
dust-smocked Orpheus,
uphill, suddenly, just to breathe.
Something blue: a light switch
popped its tongue like a witch
as I reversed in a spell
out of the past
by walking backwards
up nobody’s rickety stairs,
out of the dark
and its hopes.

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