I grew up next to the dead,
where no one ever heard them
complain about trespassers
so at night the neighbor kids and I
would play “Ghost in the Neighbor’s Yard.”
We were told it was disrespectful,
that we shouldn’t mess up the yard,
but to us it was only grass and stones.
I grew up being a menace to the neighborhood traffic.
Lying in the road, arms crossed, and eyes closed.
If we stopped the neighbor’s long black moving van
that brought someone new to the neighbors place
every week, we felt like kings who ruled the street.
We were told the drivers would get angry,
but the van’s passenger didn’t complain.
I grew up hearing all kinds of stories
about my neighbor’s place being haunted.
“Aren’t you afraid?” kids at school asked.
I’d only ever respond with, “Why?”
Kids at my school thought I was fearless,
except for the ones who walked home
on the same path that I did.
I grew up dancing with “Amazing Grace,”
which drifted down the street until
we heard the sequence of notes
so often they became white noise,
then in 2002 they started blasting
“21 Gun Salute,” and trumpeting “Taps”
for the enlisted boys coming home.
We were told they’d stop soon,
return to the usual “Amazing Grace,”
but they never did.
Now, most of the dark moving vans
carry a flag over their cargo.
I grew up missing the family who moved next door,
even though their fence was visible from my porch
they couldn’t possibly be further away. On the days
I missed their voices I would go searching
for the etchings of my family’s name in stone.
I was told one day I’d see them again.
Except I grew up next to the dead,
and I never saw anyone leave.
Liam Crestwood is a writer from the Wasatch Front in Northern Utah.