Andes Mint #16: Sleepwalker


A child enters your room sometime after midnight.
You know it’s your son by the silhouette of his cheek,
his spiky, sleep-tossed hair.
You say his name. He doesn’t answer.
You call his name again and
again, he does not answer.
It is your boy, isn’t it?
Or have you transformed a masked stranger into a
second-grader in blue plaid flannel pajamas?

A whisper of a laugh escapes him and
it does not sound like the laughter of the boy you know.
Someone else has come upon you,
insinuated himself into your family,
eased in on a black night.
Fear slips cold gloves around your lungs and
you can’t breathe.
Motionless on the threshold, the
stranger stares at you in darkness.

Next morning at breakfast the
eight-year-old is back. His spoon lifts
in and out of a cereal bowl, flashing silver.
He sees you gazing at him in the morning sun.
He smiles his gap-toothed smile.
After a minute you smile back at him.
You don’t want to think about
what you witnessed there, in the dark:
the man inside the boy, waiting to get out.

Poem of the Week, by Wendell Berry

There is No Going Back
– Wendell Berry

No, no, there is no going back.
Less and less you are
that possibility you were.
More and more you have become
those lives and deaths
that have belonged to you.
You have become a sort of grave
containing much that was
and is no more in time, beloved
then, now, and always.
And so you have become a sort of tree
standing over a grave.
Now more than ever you can be
generous toward each day
that comes, young, to disappear
forever, and yet remain
unaging in the mind.
Every day you have less reason
not to give yourself away.

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