The Night the Earth Shook

Suddenly aware of a chill in the air,
piloerector muscles lift hairs on the back of my neck.
Creep-crawling, jig-jagging between trees and shadows,
unaware of the distinction.
Bats chirping while completing mobius-strip trips
around the clock-tower.
Hands, clammy and cold, grab at my shirt, hair, limbs.
I spin, finishing the rotation akimbo-
wrong stance, wrong place-
suddenly an absence of time
as I stare into the depth of tundra seas.
As he reaches for The Box,
the container,
the cage,
the vessel that ensures my survival,
that cages the secrets of my soul…
Transfixed.
Aware of asphyxia only when my mouth opens automatically
to gasp for oxygen and finds none.
My body slams to the earth.
My being drowns in his gaze.
Trees and shadows form indigo ghosts
fighting to escape the boundary of my retinas.
Moist fingers rip buttons,
hangnails scratch my flesh
as phalanges keep their vice around my neck.
A statue pinned to an emerald pincushion
of quaking earth.
Indigo replaced by stars.
It’s not the ground that is shaking,
it is me.
Memories of my first horse-back riding trip,
the way The Raptor loops and swirls on its tracks and
the squishing of the sponge while cleaning cups last night
infringe on entitled panic.
I open my eyes
releasing ghosts and stars
and watch clouds skitter across the moon.
I wonder if I left the porch light on,
if it’s glowing like the street lamp
jolting in and out of my field of sight.
Did I feed the cats before I left this morning?
The earthquake subsides.
I don’t think I fed the cats.
It will be dark if I go home.
11.3.04/3.45pm

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