Jennifer Stewart Miller

CLEANING THE NIGHT BASEMENT

 

On a ledge in the back
             room    I can
dimly make out

    a nest made of decaying
fur and grey sticks—big like
               a squirrel’s nest         I don’t

     want to see              any
of this              but          a rat                
              fat        like an opossum         

uncurls and
            casually           leaps down
brushes past

                        my stiff legs and
morphs into a
             raccoon, which squats

    and stares through its mask—
              something
gnaws at me       and I squeeze

through a little hole    
    my mother’s boyfriend
                       and I

                           lie on
a twin bed in her room
watching           the only TV—

He slides his big
hand
             down

             under the waistband
of my pajamas
             his fingers

insinuate their way
  under                         the elastic       
             of my

            underpants
and
            stroke my        newish

little mammal patch.
                          He
           pauses

bites back
             most of
   a moan

   withdraws  his
                        hand—
but not

               the rat                       
and not
              its doppleganger       

the raccoon                 
      with its                  sorry             
                   little hands.

 

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