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Just past a crooked bend

it springs: vine-shadowed gap,

disgorging an arachnid shape

that crawls across my lights --



a tractor in low gear, bumbling

and wheezing towards its nightly

barn; but now I’m paddling

in the wake of dreams.


                                           I’m four.

A hunting pack of wolves

invades the house. Gray bristles

on their spines erect, they crouch

then silently advance upon

our blue pile rug. Arm

raised to block those yellow glares

I seek a door. First lesson

in inverted space: the dark outside

may be more safe.

                                           I’m eight.

The urge to dominate spills over

in a game of toreador.

Flapping a makeshift cape I lure

my little brother to a rocket charge

against the razor corner of our

faux-stone etagère. The room turns red;

blood on the floor, my shoes,

the sopping rag I wave about

his head. Our Mom screams in.

It was an accident, I say

straight-faced; triumphant in an

un-shamed state of grace.

                                           I’m two.

My father’s off again to War,

a giant khaki shoulder

thumping down the stair. We ship out

to my Nanny’s home: tall narrow

place of honeycomb salons

where dead gas sconces clutch the walls

and coal still scuttles to its cellar lair.

Where stark things muster round my crib:

the peg-leg ghost with burlap sack

whose serpent slithers idly by,

whose lizard-like companion

breathes blue cyanide.

                                           These glimmers

might be ivory; might be horn.

I slip the brake and roll

past hidden drives

that I’ve erased.

Rat's Ass Review, Fall/Winter 2022

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