A Compromise - Poem by Orlando Belo
We moved into a Georgian house in Derby.
It was old, empty, large, and quaint.
Its location was ideal for work, schools, and family,
even though it needed renovating and a lot of paint.
We decided we would first get to know the house,
and learn how it and we could best fit in.
The important tasks we could tackle immediately,
like broken fixtures, electricity, and plumbing.
Our bedrooms were selected and made comfortable,
the furniture and bedding, had been put in place.
After the first week a ‘to do' list had been sorted,
and the most important things were fixed in haste.
During the latter part of the first week,
we heard noises that we thought was the plumbing.
I bled the piping and radiators of all excess air,
which solved the gurgling, banging, and drumming.
At half past one in the morning of the second week,
a loud knocking noise woke up everyone.
I got out of bed, turned on the lights and searched,
where I thought the knocking was coming from.
It sounded as though it was coming from an unused bedroom.
I had been in the room several times before,
and considered it to be a potential study,
when I had decorated and fixed the creaky floor.
I tried to enter the room, but the door was locked,
However, the key was on the inside.
I went to check on the children to see if they were in bed.
They were, and my wife was now by my side.
I explained to her the situation and
we returned to the locked bedroom door.
Surprisingly this time the door handle managed to turn,
which made me feel uneasy and totally insecure.
With my wife firmly behind me,
I cautiously opened the door.
Before it was fully opened I could see,
things I had never seen before.
Without thinking I quickly closed the door.
The wife grasped my arm and anxiously asked me,
what I had seen to make me shut the door,
so I told her there were things she shouldn't see.
She told me not to be silly and to step out of the way,
so I moved, and she slowly cracked open the door,
Through the gap, she could see objects floating below the ceiling,
and an old man carving clogs, sitting on the floor.
She too quickly closed the door and stepped back,
and asked me what we should do.
"Did you see that old man? He's a ghost, " she said,
"and he's making a wooden shoe."
"I never saw him." I said, "I only saw the floating things."
"What are we going to do? " she said,
"we can't just ignore what we've seen,
and our children are in their beds.
You will have to go into the bedroom
and tell him he has to go.
Tell him he is a ghost and he should not be here,
and it is a fact that he ought to know."
I took a deep breath and entered the room,
and dodged the floating pictures and ornaments.
He stopped hitting his chisel with the mallet,
and turned towards me with a look of contempt.
"Why have you disturbed me? " said the ghost?
As all the floating objects hit the floor.
I asked him if he knew that he was a ghost,
and he said, "Yes, now go away and shut the door."
"I'm sorry, but I cannot do that,
your shoe making is keeping us from our sleep.
Could you not do your work in the daytime,
and limit it, to a Monday to Friday week? "
"And why should I do that, " he said,
"I have lived in this house a lot longer than you.
If you are not happy living here, move out,
there is nothing more to say or do."
"Wait a minute, " I said, "you have no rights you are dead.
You should have moved on when you passed away.
You cannot expect my family and I to up sticks and leave,
just because you are content and want to stay.
I rather you left voluntarily, if not,
I will get a priest and get you exorcised.
So why don't you find the light, and step through it,
and spend the rest of eternity in paradise? "
"I don't want to go to paradise,
this is paradise for me.
But I will agree to doing my work in the daylight hours,
and have weekends off, for the cause of harmony."
"So you are agreeing to co-habit this property,
and not to disturb us during the dark hours? "
"Yes, and please don't use or renovate this room, its mine,
but I suppose we could consider it ours."
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