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By Ashley August

In Central America
To whistle in your home meant you were making room for bad luck
Like a man who didn’t wipe his feet clean at the door
It meant you were the inviting host of an evil spirit
It meant you were asking for your home to be set on fire from the foundation
            In America, people whistle while they work
Whistle while happy
Whistle to call an animal on four legs closer

Recently I learned how to do this singing with
Just my lips, tongue, and breath
Old habits die hard
So I only do it outside the house

I have a fear of meeting the person who will ruin me while whistling
While happy or attempting to start a fire
Which means they will be my very own evil spirit on four legs
The ghost my mother warned me about hissing past the doorframe
The unseen fire starter
The house will smell like propane and lighter fluid

While on the train, folks will look around like they just saw a ghost
and ask what smells like it is burning
and I know they will mean me
Which translates to me being the one with the dead dog
Which means they will know I am the one who did not listen to her mother
Who plays with ghosts and doesn’t expect
a fire
or man
to burn my house

Source: Poetry (March 2020)

Poet Bio

Ashley August
Ashley August is an Afro-Latina actress, playwright, poet, and author of Say I Won’t (self-published, 2019). See More By This Poet
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