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|  WHAT'S DOWN THERE

 
  Silhouettes of dry grass bend
against the basement window
exotic, elegant as
bamboo in a Japanese print.

Then there's this mess.
Boxes, clothes, old toys.
Do the laundry,
and run.

Like I used to when I was a boy,
when I'd imagine a genie hand
with eight green snake arms
growing, slithering out
to catch me from behind a scratched bureau
or a pile of mattresses.
The click of the furnace
was a gun being cocked
by hidden assassins, those big kids
from up the road
that chased me home one day.
Streak up the stairs, my body pounding,
and lock the door behind me.

And down here now, how much safer is it?
The assassins have grown old.
They are the fine hair
of cobwebs on rafters,
are the black mold on walls.
Incessant rain has filled and flooded,
ruined wood pallets, old clothes.

Destroyed
a baby high chair
that we'd saved purely for the sake of memory.
We had to throw it out.
Almost crying, almost remembering
our children (and ourselves,
almost seeing ourselves) sitting there
in majestic baby bodies, picking at the peas
one by one
with tiny dimpled fingers
as if they were chopsticks.


from Forever the Last Time
Wolsak & Wynn
2004
Copyright © Jim Slominski