Dim sun-checkered path through the forest, the perishing limbs loose

their leaves; were they mine I would gladly let go all my gold leaves to

carpet the ground her feet walk on, though she merely frown, forget I

lived, and hurry on, for she must not be late; for reasons not at present

time if ever known she can’t be late. She hurries on. She only knows

that they are waiting. They are waiting. They are longing for her at this

very moment. All year long they have been pining for her, waiting and

listening, listening through sleep for the steps they know, the little

knock, the child she was they most intently listen for and wait. The child

she never was but will be now, if somewhat tall, the instant the front

door starts opening as though by itself and the option to enter is offered,

apparently. They rejoice, at mere sound of her steps were already

rejoicing, though no one will say so; no one knows how that is done,

how to make the appropriate face even. They wish in their way to delight

at the sight of her, even if it is all they can do to grunt something in

greeting, so great is their happiness that she has come, is standing there

in person. But for her they have little to live for. It’s dying they live for

in fact, and tv. Somebody hands the remote to her, this honor is done

her, and gestures sit down. Want a coke, want a cookie, they mutter, it

sounds like that, eyes still intent on the set with the sound off, familiar

room otherwise dark, curtains drawn. There in its light they all sit:

Father Blind, Mother Monster, now her, the faculty of speech regressed

already to that of a nine-year-old irreparably shy with terror, sick with

hope. She can’t say she is comfortable yet with being seated in this vast

armchair, her feet barely touching the floor; or with the prospect of

having to sleep in a bed half her length, in her old room, or with lying

there in utter darkness frozen, unable to move when they enter, tongue

drawn back into her throat. But then she will be dreaming won’t she?

The visit itself may be some kind of dream, that is still vaguely possible, a

hope entertained, resorted to when necessary, when painful and

unheard-of things were occurring to her body, for example, no cessation

of them yet in sight, in previous years, those unending years of actually

living there, possessing in fact no memory whatsoever of ever having

woken up anywhere else. For the time being though she is still

sitting here, right next to Mother the fixed smiling glare and her husband

the mumbled joke nobody gets, they appear to be sleeping, reclined in

their chairs, all year long they’ve been sleeping, sleeping as snow fell,

blowing all around the house, spring branches tapping at windows, each

alone in their rooms, summer fields white for harvest, then leaves, golden

leaves falling, leaves of my dying, dying to see his eyes, hear his voice

saying my name, once again he has come here to save me, to buy me

things, teach me how monsters have monsters, that’s right, the

tormented torment, the abandoned abandon, charismatically numb,

cold, surviving, the last ones left standing, and how shall they warm

someone else so very much themselves in need of one to come and save

them from that arctic horror they have been crossing on foot all their

lives, the last companion eaten, the graves of my footprints erased long

ago, dying of loneliness there in my cubicle, waiting for someone to

resuce me, someone to rescue, it comes to the same thing. Save me . . . I

miss you . . . All the while they were sleeping, they slept as the seasons

were changing around them, waiting for this day, Mother Beat You

Daily Into Speechless Deafness, Father Blind To It All, I’m sorry dear

we just don’t have the money for a hearing aid right now, blue soundless

tv, and look: there’s Brother Rapist, unnoted, unmentioned, the

originless weeping ignored, ignored knock at the back door, the knocking

that goes on and on, forwarding address unknown; and Sister Silent is

sitting here too in the bad light, the perpetually downcast gaze, the

amputated tongue, forever nodding yes yes yes as she’s mouthing the

words of the miniature Bible she carries at all times, never getting

beyond the first page, from under her pillow it slowly recites itself, such a

kind voice saying everything’s fine, everything is going to be all right

abruptly followed by a stream of loudly whispered accusations, each one

true! But he didn’t really mean it, my peace, my beloved, while we’re

waiting for her to turn up, it seems like all we ever do, poor little

elder sister still so far and maybe lost awhile but on the straight road

once again, surely, and she shall wear gold, golden leaves to adorn her, to

guide her here, nodding, now and then slapping herself in the face, hard,

trying to shake off the dream she keeps falling into, earth opening under

her, the dream of walking someplace else, anywhere, I must wake up

now she’s saying, yes, she is so close, I can already hear her, but here in

Kindertotenwald the way is long, the roads unnamed, etiquette strange,

changing from day to day, minute to minute, for example: is it correct to

comment admiringly on a family friend’s shiny new fang dentures?

There I can’t help you. The house must be close by now. So what does

one say this time, what does one do, when the sardonic greetings cease?

You’re asking me? Cringing hugs, possibly. Shake a chill and weightless

hand. Kiss a cheek smelling faintly of stale lilac and rotting meat. Take

an axe to them all, shrieking, exalted, hunting them from room to room,

screaming the scream that will never be over? Beats me. And how did

they manage it do you imagine all those years keeping their true lives

concealed from the neighbors and look at them now in their ultimate

cunning somehow they have totally changed their appearance I mean

past recognition you feel who are these shrunken frail elderly people

who’ve taken the place of our parents and where did they bury them old

people no one would ever suspect victims now think of that and

abandoned nobody to care for them here in their long dusty nap with the

grass growing up to the windows the household falling down around

them all on account of this one thankless child Miss big city fake blonde

and self-centered daughter. Who cannot be bothered. Yet here she is

again. And why? Why? Why do we still go on phoning them visiting

feted and fed by our torturerers why did we not at eighteen leave and

never look back and completely forget them, I know, the need from time

to time the need to prove they’re really there you can see them have

proof that they actually lived are even living still at a listed address and

not just in your head and besides. Where else did you ever fit in, tell the

truth, and where else is a monster to turn, so close now, what else can

you do turn around and go home, and what home would that be? Turn

around and go back to that arduously perfected impersonation of one of

the normal, fuck the normal, where were they when we needed them,

and how could they know, how comprehend this poor sorrow, the guilt,

the humiliating and undisobeyable hunger to somewhere belong, just to

rest for a day, and be for once this crippled child and how much she has