lady with cane

Over the Threshold


We laugh like newlyweds

as you carry me over the threshold

into a house rife with the spirits

of former tenants-


a lonely caretaker, a childless couple,

a single mother-


their DNA peeling off the walls

like chipped paint.

We run our fingers alongside doorframes

searching for light switches so we can better

inspect the rusted pipes, balls of dust,

lover’s quarrels, teenage lust.


You bump your head on a sharp vent

over the stove and curse aloud

when you absentmindedly bash it again-


I’m sure this house is telling us to let it mourn

for its losses in peace.


I won’t fill these rooms with heavy furniture,

heavy conversations or heavy silence.


It’s too tired a house to take that on.


You messily splash rum in every corner,

to keep away the dead, and to give us

a second chance.


Loretta Oleck, 2016 Pushcart Poetry Prize nominee, is the author of two poetry collections, Songs from the Black Hole (FinishingLine Press), and Persephone Dreaming of Cherries (Hurricane Press). Her poetry and photography have been published in The Stockholm Review of Literature, The Westchester Review, The Adirondack Review, The Missing Slate, Obsidian Literature, Black Lawrence Press, So to Speak: Feminist Journal of Language and Art, Feminist Studies, Picayune Magazine, Poetica Literary Magazine, WordRiot, among numerous others. Her poetry was filmed for the Public Poetry Series, included in Best of 2013 Anthology (Storm Cycle), and performed at dozens of venues. She received an MA in Creative Writing from New York University.  She is also a psychotherapist in private practice.