Saturday, October 30, 2010

Every Night Is Halloween, Part III

Here's another poem for Halloween. "Vermont Street" comes from the early part of "Light in All Directions." Stories haunt us, which makes them like ghosts or people who won't go away.

Vermont Street

Our home on Vermont Street—
named after a state I’ve never visited—
my memory of that house belongs to my mother.
Once every two or three years, she asks if I remember
the intruder or the police, have I recovered the memory
of the darkened hallway with a gas heater at one end?

Then the flames go out. On the wooden floor the weight of
someone’s foot, and when the heater lights again,
the silhouette of a man.
From her place on the bed, she almost calls out,
“What are you doing home” because the shadow is
the height and build of her husband in Vegas on business.
She pretends to sleep and prays until it walks toward my room.

I don’t remember the intruder or the policeman
whose gun I asked to see.
I don’t remember that night.
She reminds me the doors were locked from the inside,
reminds me so often that I believe I remember the keyhole.
Only a poltergeist could seep in, she knows.

One July afternoon, lying in the shade between the fence & hedge,
I watched the back door on Vermont Street.
I hid from my parents.
Who else would look for me?
They want to bring me indoors
where they believe I will be safe.
I remember the fence on Vermont Street
and learning to climb it,
what some neighbors call, “trespass.”

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