The Ghost in the Attic Closet – Charles Halsted

As a five-year-old child, I was told I must never go near 
the closet at the top of the attic stairs, where dwelled 
a ghostly monster who survived on a diet of caterpillars, 
spiders, and snails, but was known to devour children  

so small they disappeared down its gullet with a single 
swallow. Left behind by former owners, the ghost had 
lived up there since the house was first built, before my 
great-grandfather’s return from the Civil War.  

No matter what ritual I followed, such as climbing every 
other stair or ascending each step on my hands and knees, 
once I started to make my ascent, it would always know 
which step I was on, ready to swallow me up at the top.   

One day a boarder appeared, a new kindergarten teacher at my 
school. My mother decided she would stay in our attic, arranged 
for a bedroom to be built. For this to occur, the closet had to go. 
The ghost flew off through the attic window, or so I was told.

I am a retired academic physician. My poetry education consists of my attendance at six different 3-day workshops in California, Oregon, and New Mexico as well as twelve consecutive 10-week online courses provided by established American poets. I spent my early childhood in Dedham, MA, then moved to Los Angeles, CA where I attended high school. My subsequent education consisted of four years at Stanford University, medical school at the University of Rochester School of Medicine, internship and residency training at Cleveland Metropolitan General Hospital, and further specialty training at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, MD. My obligatory military service was met by two years at the US Naval Medical Research Unit #3 in Cairo, Egypt.  After fifty years as a medical doctor, I retired in 2015 and began to write poetry. Thus far, I have published three poetry books with two more in progress, and more than eighty poems in thirty-five different poetry journals.

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