Issue 160, Winter 2001
Strings violin-taut at the knees and elbows,
his heavy head drawn back, the dreaming child
sleepwalks down the ancient basement stairs,
flushed with a secret the dream keeps for itself.
The suspense is exquisite. A twitch at the last step
intimates that year's particular rapture:
carnival colored, brightly lit from within,
a painted plywood puppet theater
of all things. Hard to say if he ever dared
to look inside the jigsawed rectangle
that framed the shallow, mesmerizing stage;
and who can remember what he might have seen?
One speculates-the lost family dog
with Punch's red coat tight between his teeth ;
Judy with a fistful of disappeared balloons?—
but when he woke he cried to dream again.
Another morning that same year he wakes
with something new to say. He's the first about
in the grief-struck house, and shuffles a little loudly
through rooms still thick with the night's deep breathing