Black as a conger eel,
it hung from a hook on the bathroom door,
slid through my dreams like hunger,
lay beneath bridges of sleep, leathery, malign,
purposeful in dark water.
Awareness was always there.
If you don’t stop that and behave
you’ll get strapped when your father comes home.
And the threat worked, most of the time.
But when wildness outran caution,
we waited, heads bowed,
eyes on the latch;
the strap laid out
on a bare table;
hands of the clock
hardly moving at all.