Whoever lives in that house today has no idea. This is why I don't believe in ghosts: if they existed, they wouldn't float down the hallway weeping or make the walls drip with blood - they'd wake you up, whisper "come here" and bore you with a story about how little Jimmy used to sit in front of the window, here, and wait for the mailman when he sent away his boxtops for something. That's the stuff ghosts would want you to know about.He's right about ghosts, you know, but he's not really quite old enough to see them yet, or know their actual habits.
Here at the Farm there are ghosts now, and I can't but wonder if only I can see, and whether they'll persist when I'm gone. They only appear when everything is just right, and only dimly then.
When it's Spring, but the day is cold and overcast, and light rain is blown by the wind, down there by the road you can sometimes see what seems to be the shadow of a man and small boy, wet and frozen, digging a hole to plant a tree. There's no tree there, but they seem intent. Then they trudge over by the pond, quickly dig another hole, and shove some sticks into the ground, right where that big lilac bush is growing now. But if it's sunny, and if it's warm, there's only the lilacs and the open field. A trick of the light, no doubt.
On Summer evenings, walking up the hill to the house, when it's not quite full dark, there's sometimes a glimmer of light on the porch (a candle on a low table, I think), with an older man to one side, and another, different, boy as well. But even the twilight is almost gone, and it's hard to see. Is the boy shuffling cards in the darkness, and laughing about the score of a game they're pretending to play? Surely one of them should have won by now. But the light and shadows have deceived you again, and no one is really there. Are they?
And some ghosts are there at full noon, in the glare of the sun, by God. When it's so hot the sweat trickles into your eyes, and the rising heat makes waves in the air. In the heavy hot silence down by the pond, you maybe hear a splash, and turn to look. The sun's on the water, the sweat's in your eyes, the air itself is playing tricks, but there's another boy again: this one small and delicate, with hair so pale he can't be real. He's got a fishing pole, and turns when you look, and cocks his head just so, and shades his eyes against the glare. Did he say something about "the mood of a fisherman?" Or you had that thought, or the wind sounded funny. But the little boy winks and smiles, and he's gone too.
I think it's not just me. I think the place itself remembers.
I heard a line of poetry a long time ago, and I've never been able to find it again. I have no idea where or who it's from, but I'm sure it's right: "The stones themselves have their biographies, which we cannot read." But sometimes maybe we can.