My brother told me we would join the Wide
Blue Brigade, secret army in the night.
Whenever the blazing summer sky’s light
was needed we would roll in like the tide.
We would be irresistible. The dark
would forever bear the morning-blue mark
we left behind. My brother told me all
the dinosaurs on the poster above
my bed were waiting in a secret grove,
resting until the moment I would call
to them. He might not be there, but the great
beasts and birds would surely come to me. Wait,
he told me, and believe in what he said.
Wait, remember, and do not be afraid.
Fogged windows, stained drapes,
doors that would no longer close.
Just look, my mother told my father.
Paint flaked and fading, strict lines
of flocked gold and brown wallpaper
starting to wobble. At ten I knew
exactly what was wrong. I was not
fooled by my parents’ talk of cheap
landlords, aging finishes, the need
for more space, more light, more air.
I saw its thick cloud roil and seep
into every surface, I saw it where they
never thought to look: late at night
outside our fourth-floor windows
trying to get back in, gathered in lacy
loops above my bedroom closet,
clinging in dark patches to the hallway
lights. I even saw it when we visited
aunts and uncles in their apartments.
I knew we always brought it with us,
let it loose to work the same damage
there. I knew we would bring it with us
when we moved to the rambling house
on a barrier island where I could hear
nearby the steady pounding of surf.