All Such Ruined Houses Are Haunted

Donna stuttered.
We knew three boys who stuttered but no girl,
except Donna.
One of our gang heard his mom say
that her mother once worked in the Club Valley.
She danced by the willows under the red and blue lights,
and served men in the house.
We knew what serving men meant, or thought we did -
then the fire, then the ruin.
All such ruined houses are haunted,
but we'd play hide-and-seek there.
Donna would also hide in the drooping leaves,
but she played no games.
Once she stuttered to me not to tell,
for her mom carried a dog leash
which she used especially when drunk.

Her mother asked me once where Donna was hiding.
She was a grownup.
She beat the strap against her leg.
She knew gangsters, that's what I heard.

All this was many years ago.
A co-op now stands on the lot.
Of the weeping willows, the haunted house--not a trace.

She asked where.
I told.

Richard Fein

If you've any comments on this poem, Richard Fein would be pleased to hear from you.