21 | Poetry by Bill Rettig
Editor’s Note: The following poem is the author’s true-to-life narrative.
I’m a Believer
When I was young, the neighborhood boys took turns
flipping me over their shoulders. They said, Come on.
Wanna have some fun? I ran with them
till I was alone and lost in the woods.
At my first sleepover, Leo darkened the room
and whispered Project Blue Book.
He showed me pictures of flying saucers.
They kidnap smart kids like you, and take them to a zoo.
Martian kids would throw popcorn at you all day long.
Even though my head was under the covers, I saw
a brilliant light shining in my eyes.
Leo breathed, They’re here. Keep your head down.
And be very quiet.
I cried into my pillow until I fell to sleep.
That was the beginning of a life-long terror of being abducted.
If it happened to Barney and Betty Hill, and it obviously did.
Why couldn’t it happen to me; and it obviously could.
During childhood, in the morning Mom would find me sleeping
in my closet, in the bathtub, by the furnace, behind the couch.
I never slept in the same place twice.
If they wanted me, they’d have to find me.
My childhood’s gone, but I’ve never gotten over my fears.
As the older boys once told me and I still believe
They’re going to get you, so
tonight again the goosebumps stutter out
as I drive cross county on a narrow gravel road.
The high corn doesn’t provide a safety shield
but pulls me in like green quicksand
and the moonlight sifts through,
creating a snow globe of gravelly dust.
My watch hasn’t stopped yet, but I’m sure it will.
Have they been waiting years for just this moment?
I drive faster, fearing the bright light
from my childhood will return.
On turns my tires can’t get enough traction,
I slide and gravel ticks my car.
I survive to drive on the main road, other cars meet and pass me.
I should find that comforting, but there is no comfort for me
because I’m a believer.
The Light In The Sky
This summer we crisply rolled between your house and mine,
jumped on beds, smeared jelly on toast, drank coffee and sprouted wings,
then The Light In The Sky shined.
It was like someone had opened night’s refrigerator door,
No sharp light bulb stuck out, but a general dimness overcame the dark
Someone said it was God sharing her smile.
Others said that if God were a she there would be no reason to smile.
But soon the joking stopped as the light
got brighter and spread over the horizon
Getting closer to right here wherever right here was.
Yet there was no interaction between us and the light.
What was real?
Who was out there? And why were they so quiet?
They did not initiate contact, but things did change.
The Light In The Sky
slipped us through the next season.
Fall’s cold rains boasted a muddy mire
and in days winter sealed the mire in ice.
The cost of gas rose by the hour.
Cars waited in line or stuttered down the street
Then there was no gas at any price.
At the grocery store we bought whatever was left.
We walked home with heads facing front to show no fear
and hairs in the back standing straight up.
Our sleeping was disturbed,
after all it was like trying to sleep at the north pole in June,
you had to be exhausted.
I fell asleep for seconds every few minutes.
I was never sure if I was awake or asleep.
There were others like me, interviewed on TV,
Featured in the local news.
Famous for how they slept,
continuing to sleep and continuing to be awake
and only vaguely being aware of either.
Was this the plan? The takeover?
Was the President sleeping well or was he like me?
Well . . . sleeping . . . sometimes, now and then,
often always; but if sleeping meant what it used to mean,
then never sleeping.
I knew that I and all non-sleepers had been chosen.
I waited to truly awaken.
Tonight miniscule snow balls snap at windows,
and flakes slap the siding. Even though I’m inside,
I put on extra socks, long johns, my parka, wool hat, and gloves.
Frosty leaks sneak past the window panes,
arctic murmurs crack through the front door.
A howl, a shout, words without shape
hover over and drop from the sky.
Something is at my stoop,
uninvited but coming for dinner.
The front door bangs in the wind
and the back whisks open.
All the heat is sucked out of my house.
The fireplace flames freeze mid-flicker
then limply drop to the grate.
My eyes are all I can move.
I see a face with broad, flat features
No wrinkles or lines of character
Simply an allegory open to interpretation.