The nurse followed me
into my nine year old sleep
where Lonnie in the next bed
melted day by day
into tadpole form
green as the urine
his sad kidneys wept.
She became that evening’s nightmare
descending in bloated uniform
to the bottom of a mountain
of thin white string.
“You can’t play with Lonnie,”
she proclaimed, handing me a ball
of that same ghostly twine
no larger than a plum,
“until you wind it
into a perfect sphere,
punishment for laughing
after lights out.”
Lonnie whimpered in his own dream
as she pushed me towards string
piled higher than a peak.
“I will not,” I declared,
my arms locked in a double granny,
“I will not, no, I never will,”
and I tied a knot for Lonnie,
and another knot and another,
until the knots formed a chain
and the chain a rosary of knots,
each a wish for Lonnie.
The more I said,” I will not,”
the smaller she became,
smaller than a mouse,
said no until she was not,
and Lonnie rolled to one side
hatching into another life.
I woke in darkness but not afraid
for she caught me falling to the floor.
“I’m sorry,” she panicked, “I’m sorry,”
and the more she said it
the more I knew I’d finally won,
won for me and won for Lonnie,
and the new creature he’d become.
“Goodbye, Lonnie,” I wished,
“be happy swimming in your new pond.”
I looked up into the face
of that mythical form in white
and found myself, not awake,
but in another dream an older man has
when he knows he’s changed the world.


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