The Lights are Off

March 23, 2008
By Julia Savel, Chatham, NJ

The door closes, creaks.
With a thud, it seals.
I wrap a blanket, heavy, around me.
It shelters me until dawn.
My head sinks into fantasy.
Where will I go tonight?
I see a shimmering door.
I am drawn to it.
The handle whispers come,
behold wonders while pale hands
and ragged fingernails find the latch
and expose a world unknown.
I look around:
an oak with a swing
dangling like two nooses,
rosebushes higher than my head.
My Aunt.
She is gone from our world,
but I appear to be in hers.
My twisted values, my need for books,
my love of water, my fear of trust:
they come from her
and have never left me.

She fiddles with her hands,
tongue-tied with a wicked grin.
Slyly, she says I cannot go home
this world has given me all
and you can be with me
you do not have to leave this holy
Nirvana. Just go into the river
she says, drifting like a cloud
floating, sly, and I dip my toe.
Ice rushes up my veins.
A massive ram’s force
sends me soaring like a heavy cloud
into the water. Surrounded.
Frost nips at my skin.
Apart, I glance up
to see my Aunt standing over me.
Sweat beads her glass face.
One bead lands in the water,
becomes part of it. Struggling
for breath, I realize what she has done.
I hear a pure voice, soft, in my ears.
Flowing with it, my limbs become balm.
Upstream, upstream, the song louder
and louder it is in my ears, pounding
Angel voices in sky and water

I jolt up, grab my face, its sponge
tender, my pillow. Night after night
this dream. I live sluggish
until I sleep, o so dear.

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