Thank You, Stranger

Nightmare Season

By Eibhilin O’Reardon

Last time this happened I was a child, sitting curled up beside my father

As he opens an intricately carved wooden door

Colours and sparkling lights spill out

Children that grab my hands, grubby shorts and glinting eyes

“Come with us” and I’ll soar, in a chair with winged legs

Through the hued skies

I ran with them, through lush green meadows and damp stone corridors

I was spinning with the grace of a nymph, as the harmonies I could not hear filled me

And I watched a cherished homeland sung to life

The turn of the century’s bashful hero

Beckoned me, bewildered, I ran along him

Drinking in the warm glow

Of a fortress of a friendship that felt like it was mine

It all fades, and you use unworthy substitutes

All anyone can offer me are dystopian lovers, so inhumanly insipid

Yet now I’m a child again

Because a hand was extended, ink smears and round fingers

Less poised than the smiling portraits on faded dust jackets of old

It reached to an intricately carved wooden door, which opened and out poured

So many villains, so much noise, but

I picked up an ancient crown

Ran my fingers along the filigree, starlight glinting on the tarnished gold

Whispers of a whole world’s history

A ghostly girl, a year on my age

A mystery – dangerous deeds and blood

Heat and hurting, lust and love

I’ll soar through masses of skies

The polished wooden limbs of the chair grow stony and scaly and ancient

And the wings as wide as the span of the oldest oak tree

The heroine of this decade, her strength of a marble column in an ancient temple

I watch her bloom, enthralled, drinking in the light of her treasured destiny

I grew up, mostly, and it’s all still here