The Bad Man

Shannon Olin Kresge
Last Modified: July 16, 2003

I dreamed of an intruder again, last night-
In the yard, on the periphery of my home.
I ran out to meet him, maybe to savage him,
But he escaped over the rough, wooden fence,
Leaving only a muddy footprint across the slats
To show he'd truly been there.

I remember the dreams I'd had before -
Of the thief who confronted my sister and me in the park,
Who stole her gold bracelet, and
When he demanded my necklace,
I said, "It's only glass. It's not worth anything."
He told me he'd be back.
I'd run from the place,
Frantically screaming for police,
Knowing he would.

He showed up again in my basement,
With three others
I'd shouted at them to get out of my house,
To leave things alone, to leave me alone.
The three continued to work silently
With hoses and pipes around a pit in the floor,
While the bad man considered me,
Fingered a teacup,
And said,
"You're not using it anyway. So why shouldn't I take it?"
I'd bellowed then, outraged, but secretly stung,
And charged at him.
He slipped easily into shadow.

I'd turned then to the three,
Grabbed each one,
Thrown them into the pit.
But the bulbs began to flicker,
And I couldn't find the thief
Who was laughing somewhere in darkness
and when I tried to call out for someone to help me
He mimicked my desperation.
I ran for the stairs
As the lights went out,
Knowing as I woke, breathing hard,
That he was still down there somewhere.

I don't know if he's back.
I don't know if it's him.
But I'll sleep with the lights on:
Guards on white horses to line the perimeter;
Barbed wire glinting from the top of the fence;
Fierce dogs in the basement, gnawing their bones;
I'll sleep with the lights on-
Sword across my lap.


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