Four Poems by Elle Shim

The Moving Man Said

This house is haunted, and then he sat down my couch.
He said it casually, like a comment on the late October
snow, heavy and wet—perfect for pining alone
over a man who will never come to the door.

Perfect for wrapping blanket upon blanket and pretending
the warmth is comforting. Everyone expects the power
to go out. Everyone knows the rest of the night
will pass in the flicker of candles.

But for now, there are streetlights. And Look!
Out the window: A dog
is tearing some small thing

No, wait.
It’s shivering.

I Do Believe in Ghosts

Because sometimes the house smells
of garlic bread for no reason.
The woodstove fire dies and kicks
to life again on its own, and I think of the
woman who died here before,
whose pink curtains
are still hanging over the bed.
Sometimes the light breaks
on the kitchen floor like it’s shining
through a prism, and then
the phone rings, and a voice says:
Close your blinds or I will call the police
my children can see that you are naked.

Family History

My grandmother remembered the Depression and stuck her chewing gum on windowsills to save it. The house is still there, but she is not. Piano, windowsills, television even, all the same. In the closet is an oatmeal container filled with army men and electric tape that I would play with while the adults bored each other in the next room. Those windows were always drafty, and Grampa stiff with war stories he never told. On Christmas Eve, he sat in his armchair and said nothing, a hereditary habit, watching tree lights the size of strawberries glow with old-fashioned intensity while I plunked the hallway piano, my fingers cold, the curtains swaying. Outside, a car might drive over the street’s new snow, and I would think of my great-grandmother, who told her daughter, Don’t marry that Russian. They sleep with knives under their pillows.

Ancient History

The morning sun in London
warming the ancient wall,
crumbling as it cuts the city
like you’ve cut my heart——
not cut but divided
and sequestered.

Here, everything
I love, there

everything I’ve left behind.

Elle Shim studied theater as an undergraduate in Wisconsin and received her MFA in poetry from the University of New Hampshire in 2012. She is a poet, teacher, and doodle artist. Her work has appeared in Cider Press Review, The Cortland Review, Blue Collar Review, and elsewhere.