Night Terrors

Monster Mash: Three poems by Ruth Foley

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 Dear Bride

 

How I loved your swan hiss and screech, your electric

hair. I loved the ragged strips of cloth that bound

your fragile arms, as if you could not trust your own

brittle skin. I loved the stitches on your throat, the snap

of your head, your bloodlessness. The way you rose,

 

a drawbridge across a moat, the straight steel bars of you,

the sheet-draped plank of your body—none shall pass, none

shall enter here. To breathe again, after your time

underground. To wake to lightning and the triumphant

 

cries of men. Everything sharp corners and polished

metal. Everything harder than you. Pallid, alone, you could

not close your eyes—How could you be expected

to believe any creature who called you friend? Still, he was

the only one who knew how fully you belonged to the dead.

 

Who let you down the first time? Who lowered you,

lowered his body to the fresh-turned earth above you?

What kind of man would let you go so easily? And oh, God,

what if the world refuses to disappear again beneath you?

 

 

gloria invisible man

Dear Dr. Griffin

 

I wanted to be left alone, like you,

spent my days examining the things

that other people turn away from. I

 

turned them over, taking them into my

mouth. I believed in science, or in

magic potions. I ignored warnings

 

about insanity. I have been betrayed, heard

the sirens approaching. I have been

visible only by my footsteps appearing

 

in fresh snow, by a floating cigarette holder,

by the furniture sinking below my weight.

I have wrapped my skin in bandages,

 

desperate to be seen, stood naked

in the corner of the room, listening,

felt the cold in a strange town, the ice

 

on the soles of my feet. I have run

and felt the bullets. I have fallen and

closed my eyes just as my skin appeared.

 

 

Dear Larry Talbot

 

I used to know a man like you: the scarce

veneer of skin across the beast, the claw curled

 

in a hand. I used to wait for him to snarl

or snap, to say I drove him to it like your

 

autumn moon. I recognize your startled heat,

your palm against the scrabbled bark of a tree,

 

the furring edge of a french cuff, the unraveling,

the woman backed against the trunk, the duff

 

at her feet. I used to know the woman too:

the way she likes to pretend she doesn’t hear

 

the howling, the way she lifts her hand,

tugging her collar closed against her throat,

 

the blood bruising her temple from within,

the beating pulse of her. The call. Dear man,

 

she knows you’re hardly man at all, despite

your polish and your shoes. Despite the hollows

 

at her clavicle and the way her marrow

holds her scent, begs you to unmake her.

 

wolfman poster

Ruth Foley lives in Massachusetts, where she teaches English for Wheaton College. Her work appears in numerous web and print journals, including Antiphon, The Bellingham Review, The Louisville Review, and Nonbinary Review. Her chapbook Dear Turquoise is available from Dancing Girl Press. She serves as Managing Editor for Cider Press Review.

“Dear Bride” was first published in Emrys Journal, “Dear Dr. Griffin” in Forge, and “Dear Larry Talbot” in Sugared Water

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