Front Door III

Sometimes, I do manage to stay
asleep, and forget
what I’m supposed to do.

I push the glass
out of a classroom window
and run down the fire
escape. Close the front door behind
me and collapse
in the kitchen.

But then a germ
of the thing gets
in the basement. It climbs
the stairs,
and sees me. I back
through the dining room
and it crawls after me, burning
the carpet right off the floor.
It stains the wood toxic
to touch.

I turn into the living room
where that woman
I know will be my sister
is talking to my mother.
Behind me, the germ snarls
at them—my older-younger sister snarls
right back over Mom’s shoulder
and it retreats. Then Mom walks
right into it, like she can’t see it,
right into the kitchen.
My sister lunges
out of her chair,
and it backs down again.
I follow them.
It’s almost in the basement

when Mom chases her out.

I never know why.
But it waits
until she’s completely
gone, and chases me
up to my room.

Then everything’s fine.

My little sister’s already there,
the right age, normal.
The lights never work,
so we leave the door open
for the hallway light.
We stare at the park, talk
about whatever, she gives
me a hug, and we wait
for me to wake up.

But this time
she’s not.

I balance on the wall
and can feel the backyard stairs
screaming. Then the new room
is screaming. Then the
living room,
the dining room,
the kitchen
all screaming.

Then it stops
like it’s catching
a breath.

I look at my magazines.
I put Journey
in Satchidananda

on the record player.
Side A.
Sit on the edge
of my bed. In
through my nose,
out through my mouth.

The carpet starts boiling
in swirls, then the floor
turns to clumps falling
into our parents’ bathtub,
and everything is so loud,
Mom jammed
over the toilet
like she can’t move, Dad arching
over her, screaming
in her ear
while clumps
of house are falling
on them

and I start screaming, too
and they don’t hear me
over everything.

Soon my bed starts
to wilt
down
and I run
straight across
it, straight through
the window

into
the light
of morning.

Added: March 29, 2013 | Last changed: June 7, 2014