A phantom lives across the street from me,
Inhabiting the dappled corner house,
The one where they are building up the porch.
And yet at times he moves across the way
And then resides in my unfinished basement,
Or in our ashen guest bedroom downstairs.
His frequent travels through the neighborhood,
And just as frequent sojourns in our home,
Are governed by the mind and mental power
Of my curly-haired girl. Our phantom friend,
Luigi is his name, sprang from her mind –
Perhaps aided by goading from my dad –
Already fully grown and with his own
Distinctive backstory. He bought the house
On the sun-speckled block, but then concluded
That it lacked the space he needed. So then,
He set to work expanding the front deck,
And when it’s done he’ll have parties on it.
Luigi never takes a bath or shower,
So you can always tell just where he is.
He poops his pants almost each day or so,
So, you can see, his scent is always vile;
His odor once ran off a skunk, they say.
Once when whirling round the block on her bike,
Our girl alluded, gestured down the street
To the ancient German Lutheran church.
“That’s where Luigi goes to church,” she said.
Protesting slightly, I boldly exclaimed:
“I always thought Luigi would be Catholic!”
My mother set me straight, and smiling said:
“Of course Luigi is a Lutheran,
His mother’s name was Hildegard.”
I could no longer challenge anything
She had to say about our friend. A smelly,
Soiled Saxon, savvy, clever, and skilled
In matters of home repair and expansion,
A second-generation citizen
Of this great nation, born of immigrants
From Europe’s principal political
And economic power – a Lutheran
With an Italian name.
She knows him best,
So I’ll defer to her, and be content
To hear the silly stories she creates
And wants to share with me.