Orchard House by Janna Sobel

Haunted 1

Orchard House


 Janna Sobel

There were things she left me hanging out to dry

the autumn that she went away.

Fine messages strung up by threads

flip and twist like laundry, like chimes

calling in the wind now.

There are lines that stretch from the house

to her old tree. It creeks and shifts now.

The grasses are laid flat now.

We are on a storm’s way.


Be quiet when you place the glass over the cheeses.


Joey has a memory of sliding around the far end

of the old dining table, running to the kitchen in socks.

He catchess a glimpse of something on the table

as he slips by, and before he can slow down

he is through the kitchen door.

When he comes back in, nothing is there.

Only polished wood.

But there had been something…

colored yarn, a cake, a quilt…

eye level… a birthday present.

His small hands rub the back of a sturdy chair.


When she let me out to play at dusk in summer

she would say,

‘Go as far as the wind blows you.

If you find something you want to keep,

ask first if it wants to come.’


In her house I could feel my feet

spread out, pressing the absolute certainty

of the sturdy soft-wood floor.

I gave up to gravity in her house.

Sometimes I’d just take a deep breath

and let myself fall back

into the embrace of anything–

a chair, a wall, the staircase–

and sink until I disappeared.


When I’d reappear, I’d never know where I’d been.

But I’d know I had been gone a while,

and being back, I’d feel just born.

Ready. Awake. In the right middle of everything.


JannaJanna Sobel is a writer, performer and teacher. She has been a return-feature with Guts and Glory, Write Club, Story Club, This Much is True, The Encyclopedia Show, and a featured speaker at Columbia College, ORD Camp and Young Chicago Authors. She taught poetry to CPS students over 3 years through The Poetry Center of Chicago, and teaches storytelling at The Second City Training Center and Stage 773. Janna is a member of the Real Talk Live collective and is creator and host of Here, Chicago. You can find her at jannasobel.com.