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Another Childhood

He sloughs in his slippers to the dark bathroom
and lowers himself to the seat
as he has done all his adult life when,
bare skin about to meet cold extruded vinyl,
his most vulnerable self suspended
above the water, dread creeps in. 

Even so, with not so much as one light lit
to constrict his sleeping pupils
he sits, and his mind swims back fifty years
to the campground in Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan,
where he bumbled with a flashlight
to that wood maw grinning in the yellow light.
He forced himself down, then popped back to his feet
probing with the light down there for tarantula, alligator, snake.

In the gloom now, rising, he thinks he hears a scurry,
slips further back, to his grandma’s barn,
Northwood, North Dakota, no flashlight, frozen
before the two adjoining butt-holes
alone in the winter night.
Just tough it out, he can hear his father saying.
For God’s sake, turn on the light, his mother.
He smiles, flicks the switch, then back in bed,
finished, sleeps just like a baby.

This poem appeared in the December 15, 2011, issue of the magazine.