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A novel in verse … and the writing thereof
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Rumblings

For a long time I didn’t know

     what was going on, that year I turned sixteen.

The silence in our house, a false peace, had lasted

years. Now faint vibrations, sensible only to the most

     delicate instrument, sent tremors through the floorboards;

walls shivered in response, and I,

huddled in my bed, shivered too. The needle

of the seismograph does not know

     the meaning of the tremblings it records.

If I’d been cleverer? Older, perhaps?

As it was I trembled, and did not speak. Whom would I tell?

What would I say? “There’s something strange

     going on in our house?” I’d tried that once. I knew

they’d know at last that I’d gone mad. That man who heard

radio programs in his head, no radio near, was not the only person

who thought he’d lost it (until they discovered

he was picking up radio waves through

     the fillings in his teeth).

The mildest quakes go largely unnoticed. A man

driving, a woman

walking down the street, feels nothing. Even

     two people, sitting in a room: one says,

“Was that an earthquake?”

The other hesitates, listening. “I didn’t feel anything.”

So when I asked Andy,

“What do you think is going on

between Mom and Dad?” he stared.

“Huh? What do you mean, ‘going on’?”

But I did not know what I meant,

except that it had now been

transformed: a suspicion, transmuted by his skepticism

               into a secret.

Once, during a long Sunday at the Club,

I found myself glancing nervously

at the sky, the sun, which of course

     I could not see, for its brightness.

“The light’s gone weird,” I finally said, and everyone

     paused a moment to look at me:

“It’s—thin,” I said, helplessly.

“Something’s wrong

with the sun.”

They gazed out mildly over tall gin and tonics,

     out from the shaded verandah at the courts, the grass—

“Looks all right to me,” said one, and

     the rest nodded.

Next day I learned there’d been a partial eclipse.

My father showed me the article, saying,

“You were right, Lindy.”

The others, still with that same uncurious blankness, said

“Oh.” Sometimes even vindication carries

     no weight. It was not an experiment I was

     tempted to try again.

Two weeks after I approached Andy, there came

actual shouting from below, and he

whose room was over the living room, in front, where he could watch

the comings and goings of the street, knocked on

     my door, at the back of the house. When I said, “Come in,”

I could see he was carrying Fluffers, his old bear.

“Can I stay with you?” he asked, and climbed in my bed,

     where I was

not reading. He hadn’t done that

     for a year.

“They’re fighting, aren’t they,” he said, from under the covers.

“Well,” I said, “they’re arguing.” I patted the

blanket-covered lump that must be

his rear end.

“What about?”

“I don’t know.”

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