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Lord of Childhood

ISSUE:  Summer 2018

We are all enchanted. But we have to pay for it.

You know that part of town where the miners once lived? Sooty frame houses, porches whose floorboards spring up? Rusty screen doors that close with a thrum, then a series of clicks, then a squeak?

There you find the padlocked sweatshops. The names of things they once made have been worn blank by the north wind. Imagine you can read: doorknob. Comb. Shoehorn. Or your fingertips can trace the groove the letters etched.

The factory that produced thimbles is bricked in. The threadworks has no roof.

All the streets are named for trees: Pine, Cedar, Elm, Maple. There are only sagging chainlink fences. At the corner of Birch and Willow a Corvette is double-parked. A boy squats by the trunk. He has the dust. You buy it with something from your parents’ house. The ormolu lamp. The clock with a pendulum. The portrait with its massive gilt frame. How I wanted to keep the face. Just take the gold leaf and smelt it. But no. The face comes too.

Now I am enchanted, like a raven in a story, a deer, a tiger, a toad. Eras pass like a hand sweeping over a clock dial: tweets, updates, cities lost, besieged, bombarded.

Some nights I see the Lord, stacking bills in his golden window. Should I ring the bell and beg: give me back my father’s face?




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