Learning by Fire

Our house was on the farm
where all the animals were doing it
with whinnies and neighs, yowls
and low-slung moos and grunts
and the dogs rubbing up on our legs
but we knew even the youngest of us
no matter how the voices floated
from our parents’ bedroom
through the house like dreams.
She was screaming screaming
and that’s why the bogey man
lived under the bed; and he was
groaning groaning and we knew
oh how we knew that the witch
was watching him from the walls.

It was our hallway and our bedroom
where ghosts lived,
not theirs with their sheets rustling
like songs of both the unborn
and the dead twined so as
to call us up out of our beds
in spite of the bogey man
in spite of the witch
we continued
walking in our sleep
until we were awake.
© 2010 Nellie Hill. All rights reserved
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