Henry Fuseli No Longer Rides Horses

Cover Image

My nightmares have changed. They used to be full

of monsters and stairs only there

to fall down and men coming

to steal my once-a-baby brother.

I dreamt in strange languages and on one occasion

of a carpenter whose yellow-shadowed face leered

solemnly and my ribs trembled

in the terror a five-year-old does not understand.


One night there was a radio that danced

and wouldn’t turn off. I was not afraid

of this mechanical monstrosity, only

that it would wake my still-a-baby brother.


And sometimes I dreamed of death.

An abyss beyond stars and flashlights

with no mother’s lap

or father’s hand

for solace.


But they are not the same these nights. I have

given birth in my dining room

to an infant whose name I did not know.

I have stood in empty parking lots

of blaring headlights in the rain

spotlighting all the hiding places

I could no longer use.


Other times, sweaty men have lumbered

at me, aggressive

with their nudity.

And I have stared down

gritty-shadowed corridors

whose cracking doors loom and lord

in the dark.


One night there was a crash

(I heard but could not see)

and a blond woman

who swore frantically and I woke

trembling in the terror a twenty-year-old understands

but does not want to.


My brother came into my room and I could not explain

to him,

to this little boy who still dreams

of monsters, that I was afraid

not of the crash

or of the woman but of

the fear

in her gasp that was so loud

it could have been a howl.

Created: Jan 06, 2012


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