Wednesday, March 30, 2011


There was a full moon.

I was a child.

The room where I slept seemed made of windows,

With only the narrowest strips to support them

Like my bones

Tethering me to the world.

There were no curtains,

No shutters.

Just the moon as bright as madness

Over the tops of the trees.

When I was a child,

I had a recurring dream.

It was a malaria of the imagination.

There was a dark car,

A rainy city street at night,

A man and a woman, dressed to go out.

There was only the narrowest curb

Tethering me to the night.

They said,

"Get in our car.

Come with us."

I always did,

Sick and heavy with knowing

That I would never see my home again.

There was a full moon.

I was a child.

I had a gift.

I could feel drownings, death, spirits.

My father and brothers stayed,

But my mother had to take me home on the bus.

Her scorn could not be stowed with our bags--

It was too large.

"Afraid of the moon!" she would still exclaim, years later.


I was.

I remember that cottage,

The moon,

The green and silver bus we went home on,

And the slow-acting acid of my failure.

I remember coming awake in that strange bed and being asked, in the weird silver light,

"Why did you scream?"

I didn't know.

That is the one thing, then and now,

Which has remained utterly

And mercifully



all of this is true.



hedgewitch said...

I'm feeling a bit uneasy myself now, many years away from childhood-- you pass along that sense of helplessness we rarely--thankfully--feel as adults. Haunting is not the word--possessed, perhaps.

HermanTurnip said...

What I was a child I had a recurring dream where the Sleestak from The Land Of The Lost would kidnap me every night and drag me kicking and screaming into their cave...

...and those were some of my more pleasant dreams ;-)

Cloudia said...

This is a great poem that should be published! You should be feted & paid and appreciated for your incredible art. some of those lines swung like chandeliers on a sinking Lusitania of baroque awesomeness!

you blow me AWAY!

Aloha to you
from Honolulu!

Comfort Spiral



Cloudia said...

the moon is my mistress too from longest times. . . . .

Brian Miller said...

this read dark to me shay...the blank and what caused it or taken...maybe i have been hanging with my kids too much...just saying.

Pete said...

stunning image great words

Anonymous said...

So well expressed! An amazing write!

Susannah said...

Brilliant, brilliant, brilliant! :-)

Sioux said...

I agree with Hedgewitch...Thankfully, most of us do not keep the memories of awful, haunting dreams like this. I loved the line about scorn that could not be stowed.

Perhaps, after reading this poem, I am not jealous of NOT being you?

Lolamouse said...

"malaria of the imagination" -your words are jewels. I find myself studying them, turning them over and over and finding ever more facets to admire.

Lynn said...

Things are so magnified when you are a child - I can totally relate to the fear of the moon. I still don't like my bed facing the doorway and always position it to the side of it. Something leftover from childhood that I don't understand.

Kim Nelson said...

I felt the fear and anxiety, the worry and the sense of disconnectedness. And I felt sad for the child.

Mama Zen said...

"Her scorn could not be stowed with our bags--
It was too large."

The terror, the shame . . . well, this brought me to tears. Brilliant writing.

ellen abbott said...

scorn instead of loving care. so sorry sweetie.

Sherry Blue Sky said...

Wow, Shay, this is magnificent work. I love poems about your childhood the most. You convey the mood so well, the fear, the shame, because of the impatient brusqueness of adults who dont even try to understand. I can see that window, that moon, feel that helplessness and fear. Absolutely brilliant writing.

Raven said...

Oh, Shay, this is phenomenal. So dark and gripping. I was enthralled from beginning to end.

Daryl said...

Some things are best blank

Anonymous said...

The childhood dreams -- and nightmares -- are, I'm sure, fateful. Fate is burdensome no doubt, back then, now. We just get around to writing about it. The moon is such a heavy, ancient burden. When the earth was young the moon was much, much closer, filling the sky, causing tides to roar hundreds of miles inland and then back out. I think there's a memory of that way down at the bottom of our brainstems. - Brendan

Helen said...

This could be my all time favorite Shay work of art.