Sometimes I think I hear them, the ones who lived here
before me. The old man found dead in the bedroom
two days after his only friend last heard from him,
the apartment swaddled in cat hair. The young man
who died of AIDS & whose mother planted yellow roses
in his memory that bloom by my front steps each spring,
gone by early summer. The old friend who sheltered here
after her divorce, then welcomed her ex-husband so often
that she remembered why she loved him, & married him again.
The single moms whose rowdy kids trashed the place,
the single dads who drank & chain-smoked every night,
coating the bedroom walls with nicotine & soot.
The old man snoring as his naps get longer & longer,
the young man pacing the hallway & sleeping less & less,
the old friend sighing as the gentleman caller in her bed
touches her in all the old places in a whole new way.
Decades after their forwarding addresses have expired,
I still get their mail. Return to sender, I scrawl. No longer
at this address. But the truth is that we’re all here together,
roommates for life & then some, keeping each other company.