by Alta Brown

I surfaced yesterday,
head above water,
not even gasping for breath.
And it was bright everywhere.

I don't remember when the dark time began-
it was always dark in the background,
at the edges of my vision.
There were fierce faces there
that peered at me when I closed my eyes
to wash my hair.
At night, if I passed a mirror,
I was afraid to look for fear my dead face
would stare back at me.
And the demons came at night,
closets of corpses, dead hands that grabbed my ankles,
as I walked across dark, dream plains.

I often simpered and "made the best of things"
my voice was high and frightened,
always placating, I was always alert to possible depredations-
watchful, alarmed.

Now I call the demons,
and they come.
I tell them to honor the fear of the frightened ones,
and to protect them.
I call the demons,
and I feed them my heart's blood,
my heart, swollen, sweet and shining.

I can sing now,
and shout with joy.