NaPoWriMo 10


Checking Out

There are large chunks of my childhood
that have gone missing; I search for them
in the library of my past, pulling titles
which seem relevant off the shelves:

What Makes You the Way You Are? and
How to Unlock the Mysteries of Your Past.
Someday I’ll find the book which holds the key,
and I imagine when I do I’ll lean against

a wall, and it will turn into a secret door,
swinging me into a lost world where children
play quietly because they’re not allowed
to speak. They will rush to greet me,

overjoyed to be visited again, to be
remembered again, to be heard again
without being shushed. Their voices,
light and airy, will bounce off the walls

like disremembered echoes which I recognize
are in my own tongue, telling me things
I somehow know–familiar, comforting things
that make me laugh or sigh. Then again, maybe

the room will be different, and I will find
I am confronted by emaciated forms, gagged
and tied to chairs, eyes pleading with me
to set them free, but I cannot because I know

that if I do, they’ll turn on me and I will be
devoured. I open my eyes and shake my head
and, waking from this nightmare, begin
to search for a safer, more pleasant read

on another shelf. And there it is:
How to Deal with the Past You Keep Avoiding
Because You’re Too Afraid of What You’ll Find.

Relieved, I take it to the desk and check it out.

Patti McCarty 2009


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