CJ KNIGHT

Questions about the Man in his Haunted Treehouse

 

Curtains closed, I watch as his silhouette darts past

the window. Why does he move so much? Where could

he be going, back and forth across his living room at such

an hour? Why am I the only one who cares?

 

No one else seems slightly curious about the keening heard

in the night, or that you can’t seem to find this place at all

if you travel in sunlight. Am I the only one who feels the

pressure building in my chest when I come this close?

 

How old is the sign which names the house? Were the letters

scratched into the wood by his gentle hand in some other night

like this one? When my fingers trace the large H in Haunted

and the ominous S in Stay Away, a splinter catches. It stings,

but I’m glad for the feeling. I leave it, as proof that this is real.

 

Does he need sleep? Does he eat? Do shadows have a shadow

market with shadow wares and the finest of shadow delicacies?

Or must shadows stay alone in their darkness?

 

Is he lonely?

 

If he came down to me, could he stay? Or do ghost men only

exist in places one must work to enter?

 

The tree itself sways in the wind, but when I stick my hand

out to feel the breeze, there is nothing. Is the man calling some

unknown force to him, desperate to feel his home shake and

tremble tenderly in some imaginary storm? Would he let me in,

so I too may sway gently? Is there room for another silhouette?

 

Somehow, the moon is perpetual in its position above the lonely

tree. Will the sun ever come up again? Should it? If there is

sunlight, there is no need for candles behind men behind curtains.

 

The tree keeps swaying, but the man stops and turns towards me.

Can he see me the way I see him? In all my visits, I don’t recall

him ever stopping for so long.

 

I trace his silhouette with my eyes. Can he feel me, or has death

taken even that? Should I leave before I climb the rickety ladder

into the maws of death and shadows and branches full of leaves?

Before I can convince myself to head home and watch the sunrise

from my window, tucked in a bed that definitely exists and in a place

where time moves as it should, I climb.

 

Does he feel the nothing too? Can we convince ourselves it’s everything?

 

The moon chuckles, in her own way. She’s pleased, you see, since

for years, it has only been one silhouette, and now two dance and

move and sway in the treehouse. She rests back in the sky, leaving two

lonely shadows in the tree in darkness, learning not to be lonely anymore.

CJ Knight (they/them) is a queer theatremaker and writer from Chicago who, despite their best efforts, knows very little about the world, and even less about themselves. But they are very happy to be here! Their work has been featured in or is forthcoming in Doghouse Press and Versification. You can find them twirling in the rain to Earth, Wind & Fire or on twitter as @tangocolleen.

deathcap is Coven Editions' online literary mag featuring a curated collection of poetry, fiction and community pieces.  Review our Submissions Guidelines for more information if you are interested in contributing to deathcap.

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