A Dream

recurring trap
naked child, bare feet
running the silent wards of
hallways, abandoned rooms
ghost slip of white, wild
free in the damp air
of old rot
nameless mansion
built atop a natural shelf
in a half-profile turn
toward the sea, white
crests of surf splash against
a yard that had been eaten away
the stepping stone vertebrae
of foot path spine, exposed
to the open ocean wind
easier to cut across the lawn
than to skirt the sheer drop
to the beach below.
The three remaining sides are
lined high with wrought iron fence, and
overgrowth, thick except
for the slit of a rusted gate
seized open. The whole of it,
void, blacker than shadow
contrasted by overcast sky,
grey; dimly paled by the persistent
glow of an unseen moon, I
know these floorboards as I
know the wrinkles on my palms,
where they went, and
the passages between.
The boarded-up windows let
in no light, there were no lamps,
and yet it was lit oddly
in rose hue, almost meat pink
as if eyelids had closed
over the insides, while I ran
the planks and stairs
in a continual loop
on the highest floor. I,
suddenly aware, stopped
before a door I did not
recognize, curiosity drew me in,
framed portraits, smeared faces
filled the walls, shelves and
books, there was a desk
topped with etcetera,
lectern and inkwell faced
toward me, and a room
off to one side
behind a curtain.
I crept on silent feet within
a thick miasma that enveloped
my slowly-adjusting eyes
eventually traced the line
of a bed, lumped with a body.
Then I heard the wheezing heave
of lungs, and smelled
putrefied skin, it moved,
I turned and ran in
the cold sweat-beads of fright.
Somehow I knew it heard my
head heavy with the thump of
heartbeat, fear turned dream
into a nightmare from which
I could not wake.
Irrational prisoner caught
as the mansion came alive
hallways turned down dead ends,
doors opened to walls, and
somewhere out there
the monster hunted me. I
hid myself in a cupboard,
knees to chest, listening
to the scrape of feet, and
nostril snuffling at my scent.
Then the rotted floor gave way
I fell to open air, crashed
through splintered wood, and
fell again, and again
to the broken ruin of
the basement.

In a heap
of scrapes and bruises
on a pile of loose stones
looking up I can see
from where I fell, but
cannot climb back out
that way. I am forced
to proceed into the
bowels, as it were;
the path ahead is wide
with high cinder-block
walls, perforated by
slits of faded light
must be exterior windows
shrouded with overgrowth-
no matter, my path descends
at a slow grade along
loose kick-able earth
at my feet, and I
can see enough to discern
the way of things
my path hooks sharply
to the right, which I follow,
and there begin to
feel a chill
all is blackness ahead
my feet sink into
wetter dirt
a shallow pool
blankets the floor
and I want to turn back
it is then that I hear
a splashing ahead.
I fear that I am not alone
the splashing quickens
and my heart leaps
with fright. I turn
and run the way I came
that’s when I hear
the breathing,
gasping and snarling
at my back, it speaks
in a throaty voice,
“what are you?”

and I wake
with cold
ghostly skin.

© Emerys Watchel, 2016 All rights reserved.


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