‘Forgive us, history’

Index of Haunted Houses by Adam O. Davis, Sarabande Books, 2020

by Alonso Llerena


ADAM O. DAVIS’ brilliant debut, Index of Haunted Houses, is an American ghost tour that induces paroxysms of weeping, melancholia, joy, and bewilderment. Ruin and loss become as lively as the ghosts in their demand for a place in Americana. Davis’ deft lyric holds these ghost stories together through space, time, and personal experience. The ethereal becomes inquisitive of the temporal while creating wonder and doubt in the reader through these stanzas:

Don’t you know the body is a fire that sings at night? Our organs stars that winter in western states? [1]

The body is a cinder-
by hydrogen
and moth-light. [2]

These haunting voices render us ghostly with their questions and statements on our experience of the body as they unravel the collection’s theme of possession. As I read, I asked myself: What does it mean to be possessed or have possessions in the United States? The ghosts and Davis are compelling in their answer:

Forgive us, history.

We orphan


we touch. [3]

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