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Nursery Ghosts
by Sandra Lindow

We all had them--
the drooling arsenal of fearsome closet creatures--
the witch that hid in the wardrobe;
the red fox under the bed
the grizzly that rose like an enormous tantrum 
out of the clothes hamper filling your room,
until there was little air left to breathe.

Back then darkness spontaneously generated
into teeth and eyes and claws.
Only the satin binding on your blanket protected you
and you rubbed it between your fingers
until there was nothing left to rub.
But now memory consumes you
with other transformations--
the vein that stood out in his forehead,
the voice that snarled and broke,
the hands that weaponed without warning
into paddles, pincers, blackjacks, vise grips.

Thirty years later they haunt you,
attempt to control you, take you over
each time you lose patience, moving your hands,
squinting your eyes, twisting your mouth.
You hear that tone in your voice
and wince away from the sound of those words.

Sometimes you can fight it;
other times you lose;
and the daughter you love so much
wakes up screaming;
and the son who is your light
refuses to sleep without a light of his own.
There are monsters in their rooms they say.
You show them the dust kitties beneath their beds
and say, "See, nothing there!"
But you leave clutching your hands to your stomach
'cause you know the haunting has begun again,
the haunting in them, the haunting in you.


Sandra Lindow has won numerous awards for poetry and has been eight times nominated for the Science Fiction Poetry Association's Rhysling Award. Her poetry has appeared in Asimov's, The Magazine of Speculative Poetry, Tales of the Unanticipated, Amazing, et al. She has worked for over twenty years as a reading specialist at the Eau Claire Academy, a treatment center for emotionally disturbed adolescents. Her own nursery ghosts are old aquaintances who have become kinder and gentler after so many years of conversation. She lives with her husband and daughter in a house with more books than bookshelf space.


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"Nursery Ghosts" © Sandra Lindow. Used by permission of the author.
 Raven Electrick © Karen A. Romanko. Clipart by Corel®.