“Voices Through the Floor” by Mishon Wooldridge

At 5 pm, the neighborhood
is comfortably in its bed
of darkness. Porch lights cast
out nets–only catch a person
or pair, squinting. It reminds me
of a middle-aged man who admitted
darkened neighborhoods frighten him,
then tried to convince me
of his wealthy connections and begged
me to clean his apartment for 12
bucks an hour. My boots squash
soggy leaves. Lately, it seems I
see more figures in the shadows.
A hunched man exposes his body
to be simply rhododendron limbs
in front of a dim window, I scold
myself for paranoia but keep
my eye on him as I approach
home’s doorway. Inside,
voices through the floor nibble
at my feet, constant companions
in this rental unit, floorboard ghosts,
flat, heavy. I greet them by slamming
doors and running water. Lately,
there’ve been more shadows
on the faces of my housemates.
We smile but don’t say much
now that dark comes so quickly
we don’t have time
to turn on the lamps.
Mishon A. Wooldridge grew up in the South Puget Sound and now calls Tacoma home. Her work has previously appeared in The Quotable, Two Hawks Quarterly, Floating Bridge Review, Earth’s Daughters, Third Wednesday, Tribute to Orpheus 2, and others.

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