Year-and-a-half-old Mariah, having toddled up to the TV screen,
places a palm there and pronounces “Gro-bah,”
the name of the gentle blue monster who lives there;
leaves a fresh handprint in the film of dust.
Later, from that same screen, I learn of a mother of two
having strapped both into their car seats
and let car roll down boat ramp into a lake.
Human become monster; a taste dry as dust in our mouths.
And, for me, a flashback-memory of me the little kid
being held under lake surface by bigger kid,
long enough to remember for this long: the being held under.
I awake heart in throat from this Dream: that Mariah
has been killed by a van sideswiping our parked sedan.
As bad: the feeling that even in sleep there is no escape,
that sleep can suffocate.
Then, mother-in-law Clara phones, hears of dream, and says
that this is good luck, that if you dream
of someone’s death it means that they will live long.
And so, I surface…the throat clears…and the mind
rises to believe that occasional horrors can power life.
This is what we never dream of:: the ribs being accordian’d down,
then of the lungs inflating for the first time…
the rupturing of the membrane between There and Here.
What we never remember: the last taste of fluid or that first of air…
that, before the taking-in, everyone is a little blue.
What we never forget: the haunting that we want to endure, that
we want to hold us with all our might; the first song, even
if it’s a scrawny voice, ringing full, ringing clear.
Steve Burke’s poems have been published in a number of journals & mags; has had two chapbooks – After The Harvest & For Now – published by Moonstone Press. He worked for many years as an obstetric nurse; lives in the Mount Airy section of Philadelphia.