Going To Bernie's House
(Dedicated To Bob L. Browning And Anne Marie Delaney -- Who Understand)
Christ! Instant dread! someone hold my head! Panic
Leaping up in me, out at me, but no, that's wrong, it cannot be --
The monster is gone! If only in me the monster would be dead.
Forty years, some would say long time, since I have crossed that door ledge
And more. Since the stink of its essence stalking my street,
filthing my life, cramping my heart --
To a tiny meaningless thing -- went away.
Forty years, and now, suddenly, new happy people are on the block!
"Hey, Mom, It's okay. Don't worry about a thing."
"We'll have your daughter's birthday shindig here."
"Yes, alright. Thank you." Then, but, oh God, I cannot go!
They live in his house.
"But , Mom, you have to come to share my cake!" God!
And I had a dream-
My monster who knew my body most of my life, better than I could myself,
My boogie man became a great ugly beast -- and I collared it
And dragged it from the bedroom, saying frantically, desperately
To my father, -- (whose dear bones have long been dust)
"See! touch it! It's real! -- tangible, my nightmare!
His hand! Under mine! The wonderful hand of a photographer,
A framer, an artist, a craftsman, - His hand
Touching the bug ugly thing, yet still - I could not tell
If, at last, he knew my ever dreaded reality of then, too often of now,
For what it had been! -- For what it still is!
Forty years since, God forgive me, those damnable creeps moved away.
And, still, finding a question mark in dreams,
I reach to touch the thoughts of someone now alive!
Of a person like a father, yet wondrous here in the vastnesses of adulthood!
Who will look steadily, honestly at me, and quietly say --
"Yes!" and, "It's okay!" and, "I am here!"