Bedtime Stories of a Different Kind

Those memories that fly up in your face...
Like a swift punch in the gut.
Like the yelp of a hurt dog.
A chance glimpse of an aging photo
or a way a man glances at you
when you walk down the street.
That's all it takes
and you're spun back to that time again.
Grandfather's hands on your throat.
Grandfather's threats if you tell.
Grandfather choking you with white stuff
he never lets you spit out.
You learned to rise from your body,
watch it fast-speed from the air.
If lucky, an angel stood by you
or another scared girl hiding, as well.
You learned to forget your grandfather's hands.
That other thing, too, as ghosts you bad-dreamed during the night.
You don't know why you cry in your sleep, twenty years later,
or why gray-haired men make you shake.
Then that certain photo appears, that glance--
and those pages he tore from your memories book.
all come fluttering back.
This man who called you his baby slut.
This dream ghost come alive,
taking you by the hand and dragging you
into that special room,
ready again to tell you 
those bedtime stories of a different kind.

Pris Campbell

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