After a wild night of wind and lightning,
my wife, wide-eyed in the ragged moonlight,
awakens to my hoarse whisper and anxious claim
of something large clambering across the gabled roof–
what sounds to me like the gnawing of rafters
by hooked teeth and jagged claws.
Dismissing my hunch with a sigh and a yawn,
she waves me back to bed
convinced a nightmare must have galloped
through my sleep and lingers still
insatiate, just outside the stable gate.
But whatever landed with a thud a moment ago
likely sniffs out the loose seams in the shingles
through which to pry a portal large enough
to slip through with folded wings
and retractable talons–
some wretched Grendel
dropping like a fallen gargoyle,
dead to reason, bent on stuffing our young
into his great scaly purse bulging with the bones
of neighborhood kids whose parents somehow
didn’t sleep lightly enough.
A shape-shifter perhaps, slithering
through vents and shafts,
puffing dream dust into our eyes to set them spinning,
Hell bent on bolting down bone and brain
while we doze disarmed, warm near the hearth
of our own private Heorot.
My menacing knocks on the ceiling,
convey my meaning: Morse Code via Louisville Slugger,
give this bugger pause to prick up pointed ears
and listen long for me listening for him
in the leaden silence–
each of us plotting the other’s next move
till, perhaps preferring easier pickings,
he surely lifts off into the gloom of the half moon
no trace by daylight of his intended invasion, save the gutter–
utterly bent, no doubt, by debris brought down
by the howling storm–bulky broken boughs
that are somehow now nowhere to be found.