Laura Jensen
Three Thousand Hideous Children

Three thousand hideous children
tramped Hallowe'en dusk
for three thousand bits of candy
from merchants at their doors.
Stuck when barricades stopped my bus,
I had coffee at a quiche and dessert shop -
maverick, alien,
among the three historic taverns
and not much more.  Pick your poison.
Three thousand hideous children
swept draped capes
flashed bared fangs
past the shoe repair where a face once
frightened me, only the man who mended shoes,
but my father should be
at the drugstore in another part of town
near the Valhalla Temple.
I rattle tulips in the bicycle basket
for the teacher early in spring.
They are parrot tulips
ruffled and pink and green.
And our comfort was nostalgia.
Such collectible newspapers, magazines,
memorabilia.  News photos of the school director,
but in the photo not the director
and not the students -
no, no, nothing but the image
of what appear to be
our same old desks.  The sweetness
is describable.  About my face:
I desired you see tears rack down it,
tears so many they created
tears black as the dirty streets.
I can only get by.  Or doubt:
a face pale with all the joy
that surrounds it.
Silly happiness made of candy,
it is too late.  Too late for me
to be good, to attain goodness.
I found this poem all crossed over, revised,
some coffee cup rings on it
after the death of my father.  I took the tall ladder
from the garage and, in the tallest cupboard
uncovered our old witches' hats.