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.
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.
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.
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.
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