19 March 2007
Bright headlights piercing the darkness.
Darkness punctuated by brilliant flashes.
They covered great grandma in a blanket.
Standing near a tree in a lightning storm,
rain slashing into my face, stinging eyes
watching the blurry sideshow unfold,
great grandma carried out, hurried out
by the shadow men who complain
that someone would die on a night like this.
Great Auntie in such agony
that she did not notice my recklessness.
Blankets were a favorite hiding place,
arms and knees holding up the tent,
certain that the monsters could not find me.
The ghosts of the dead could not see children
smart enough to hide beneath the blankets.
This is what I believed until that night
when, after the lights of the hearse had gone:
two blurry fireflies waving in the rain,
after the lightning moved to other worlds,
illuminating some other child's night,
I climbed into bed and under thick blankets
only to hear the sound of great grandma's voice
calling my name, a whisper, but her voice,
and when the suspense became too much to bear
I peeled away a bit of the cover and looked
and in that darkness there was a light
floating at the very edges of the room.
Shaking like a tree branch in a wind storm
I jerked the blankets back over my head.
The sound of grandma's voice faded
and the room was washed in silence.
Now as I cross the invisible boundary
between what is forward and what is behind,
I am convinced these moments,
rare as they are, difficult to fathom,
hold the key to understanding
that which we may never understand.
Now that I am older and blankets
are mostly just for keeping warm at night
I wish that little boy had been less afraid,
peeled back those blankets and spoke to her.
© 2007, Satya J. Gabriel