The House of Dead Leaves, poetry by Kirsten Curcio at

The House of Dead Leaves

The House of Dead Leaves

written by: Kirsten Curcio



We arrive at a house composed of mustard-brown bricks
Dead leaves and aged newspapers splattered with a wanted murderer’s face pile around the black front door, desperate to be swept
I’m wearing a purple coat, itchy black sweatpants, sneakers that no longer fit, and a pink beanie hat
I’m still cold and hungry, but I’m alive today
I’m standing on a stranger’s stoop with the person taking care of me
“We’ll stop here for a bit.” She says, knocking on the door
I don’t have a choice in the matter
I am a burden who became someone else’s temporary burden
A child along for the ride during winter break, living in a troublesome city—south side
A man opens the black door
Questions are asked and answered
After, we’re allowed entrance
“Stay here. I’ll be right back.” The person taking care of me says
She leaves with him to a room
The door shuts then clicks behind them
I stand beside the front door, shoving my chapped hands in chilled pockets
Something moves in the corner up ahead
I look, trembling
It’s a man in a dingy thrift coat and patched up newsboy cap,
slowly raising a cigarette
Dangerous vibes shift around him
Dark shadows swirling
I look away but feel him there, glaring
I smell him there, smoking
I look at him again
Narrow eyes observing me through smoke clouds lingering in the early morning light
He gets up
He’s walking
I turn and tug on the knob. It doesn’t open. I look up, but I can’t reach the lock—
A commotion, familiar voice
The person taking care of me leaves the room with the man
He grins, handing her a sandwich bag
See through
Full of baby powder
She hands him cash
I don’t understand…
I watch the other man, still staring at me
His face is angry
“Can we go?” I ask. My eyes on him
“Yeah, we’re going.” She says, uneasy
The man unlocks the door
We leave quickly
A burst of sunny, cold fresh air hits me
I breathe it in, releasing the wave of death hovering near
“Thank you, God, for freeing me.”
I pray and look at the ground
The aged newspaper shows the wanted murderer’s face I saw,
sitting in that mustard-brown brick house

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