Three Cantos on The Hidden Place

by Luc Lasman
I. In Which Our Heroine is Discovered
“So this is death,” she said,
and her voice was
like a thousand uninterrupted sighs.
This was the sign that their mothers had given
to them—scratched
claw-deep in the backs of fallen trees,
trees on the floor of a forest long-since
to another time.
Their red-yellow eyes flashed in Morse code—a poem
about dreaming—back and forth
beneath the bathroom stalls.
For the first time in his life,
the boy knew that he had yet to feel
“We will grow old together,” she said, and her hand began to shrink.
Claw-like, it cut into your arm the shape of your father’s last
before he died in the war.
II. In Which Our Heroine Escapes
You hold the lighter in your left palm.
The lighter is silver like the coins on eyelids. The lighter is
like eyelids without coins.
The boy learns to feel afraid with a vengeance. He sees the shadows of the monsters
he has known and loved in the light of doorframes and in the still air of
She removed her slender, youthful palm from ‘round your throat
and dips it into a jar of honey. “This,” she tells you, “is how they
in the land of the dead.”
You know that once the war had lulled they replaced your father’s kneecaps with the hull of a
sunken submarine. Everywhere he went, there came the cries of drowned sailors
“blow the man down, blow the man down—”
III. In Which Our Heroine Discovers
Once, they had wings, which were luminous and sharp
in the moonlight that had once lit claw-deep sigils in
the woods of distant worlds.
You tried to love your father but you have never met your father.
The thing that was your father was cruel, swift, and hungry. Conversely, you were
small, and made only of teeth.
She shows you how to make love all at once, but you will not survive this war.
Weeping, the boy emerges joyfully from the closet
and proposes a cessation of the
And her tongue spells “danger” in the old pictorial language of the book of the dead.
boy asks softly,
“Am I forgiven?”
And you wake with a start, the answers to the universe built
ever just behind you, in
inconceivable to the naked human eye.