We sat on our knees in front of the TV,
stuffing our mouths with pumpkin pie
as the British narrator interviewed bugged out
mountain climbers who described how
on their exhausted way to the summit,
they encountered footprints too big to be human—
too human to be a bear’s. Then Vaughn’s
older brother, Pete, started telling us
how he saw them in Fairmount Park.
We were small, so we couldn’t go there alone.
We needed mothers or fathers to take us
(if you happened to have a father).
We started to dream turkeys and Himalayas,
distant gobbling peaks that shadowed
I-95, the Art Museum, and even towering
baby blue Liberty Place. All I could see
through blurry storm were fangs bucktoothing
from beneath black buckled hats.
Everything else was a guess (the show
didn’t say what they really looked like).
Vaughn described their pointy tails.
He was religious, so everything became
angel or devil. Boo said they were
part wolf—part rat. “In this city, yo,
everything got to have a little rat in it.”
The week before in social studies,
Mrs. McNally told us about that first Thanksgiving,
the Indians and Pilgrims getting along so well.
Pete told us it was all bullshit. How after
the Pilgrims were saved by the Indians,
they killed off every “goddamned Indian.”
“But I wasn’t even there,” I pleaded to Pete.
“So,” he said. “You think history gives a fuck
about you?” So in my blizzarding sleep,
faces began to appear: Mom, Dad, and my sister
Jude, our candy-giving science teacher,
Mr. Simmons—even Gram-gram. We all had
sneering faces pale as snow, muskets ready
at our shoulders. Eventually, I stopped listening
to Pete. Then he was shot for his Jordan’s
on Kingsessing Avenue, two up-close bullets
to his chest finding his heart.
After that, I stopped dreaming monsters.
Published in Cider Press Review, Volume 16, Issue 4.