Perhaps It Is Safer Under The Bed

The child who is just this short of being able to ride the bumper cars

At the amusement park, or the middle-manager

Who is told yet again that it’s not his turn

To move up, knows that nothing carries

The bone-crushing bulk of a deferred someday,

Nothing cuts a broader swath than the emptiness

Between our piggy-banked tomorrows and the vacancy

Of today, and at some point the weight of having

Nothing tangible to look forward to, save another shift

On the register at The Market Basket (and fewer hours there,

What with this economy), and then a long walk home

To another date with the microwave and leftover pasta

Overwhelms a young woman (you note, somewhat sadly,

That she is no longer a girl), and forbearance and resolve

Give way to the slamming of dishes and scattering of silverware

And she says (though she doesn’t say a word,

The teary eyes and balled-up fists speak in the plaintive tone

Of the three-year old version of herself)

How the hell am I supposed to dream?

(It does not escape you that her mother had said

Almost the exact same thing, except that she had done so in a note

That, had the cat not jostled it to the floor,

You probably would not have noticed for days.)

 

There is little you can do, of course, save provide a hug

And what little other solace you can—not unlike

In that time long ago when, after careful inspection of

The space between the bed frame and the floor

And an equally thorough search of the back

Of the closet, you pronounced the room ogre-free

And safe for habitation, for to do more would involve

Such truths that are no comfort at all—indeed, involve the awful knowledge

That the monsters of her childhood still walk among us,

Slowly devouring abandoned homes, a window or porch-railing

At a time, and ancient pickup trucks sitting all askew

(As if casually tossed there by a child leviathan) in washed-out stream beds,

Their manure nourishing the scrub trees that have replaced

The neat lawns, the mathematically precise rows of corn.

And so you spare her from the reality that she will find out

For herself soon enough—that the bogeyman are made

Of silence, plywood, and rusted chain-link fences

Secured with absurdly huge (and ultimately pointless, the market

For brass and copper having collapsed as well) padlocks,

And it is not glowing eyes and great fangs that make them terrible,

But the fact that they are remorseless, pitiless, and relentless.

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