This Box of Souls

this is where we live
this box of souls
this box embracing boxes
boxes within boxes within walls
walls within walls, and we ourselves
side by side and
framed by tired wood
see our faces looking out the windows
side by side we
see the street but not each other

drifting voices, neighbors, friends
not just here and now, but ghosts
souls lost in time reside with us
lives overlap, lost memories still live
they looked out the selfsame windows, straightened
pictures on our walls, their voices
echoed in our rooms, seeped
to rooms next door, through
a palimpsest of plasterboard
how many layers of paint, how many colors
forgotten, outmoded, worn

how many stiffened doorknobs hard to turn
how many footsteps echoing
in shadowed staircases ours for today, how many
memories that have faded from these walls
these drab, smooth walls with electricity
buzzing between them in the
spaces we can’t see
the spaces we can’t see

all our names line up
above the mailboxes
and yet, and yet
mail still comes for waiting ghosts
for faded names
and it will come for us
yes it will come for us when we
are ghosts ourselves within
this box of souls

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