Night Terror

Kevin Keck

So his wife is afraid, and his children are afraid.

Once he smashed a chair through a window,
then took his fists to the mirrors in the house.
He said he had been dreaming about birds
pecking at his eyes,
and he had swatted at them with his arms.

At the clinic, he is hooked to machines;
the cameras film him as he tears the room apart.
Doctors give him medication.
They tell him he's not the first
to come to them like this.

He goes on talk shows,
they show the video of what he was like--
he cries when he watches it.

People ask him if he was ever afraid of the dark,
if he was told stories about monsters
somewhere in the closet, perhaps slithering under the bed.

In his dreams, he could explain it:
the warm darkness, the whale song.
And then the cold whiteness that tore at him.
Though he slept pressed against his wife,
quietly, for the first time in years,
he woke unsettled, felt swallowed
by the buildings he passed as he went to work,
the shriek of being,
and he could not strike out against it.

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