University of Southern Indiana

Nightmare before the Foreclosure

Anna Journey

I dreamed the new tenants erased
my childhood. I dreamed they painted 

over the broom closet’s door. The door
with the pencil marks my parents made each year to show
how much my sister and I had grown. Twenty
years worth of marks. Yardsticks 

on our skulls. We’d balance in the fumes
of the closet’s shoe polish, shoulder blades thrown
back. We’d practice
a somber stillness, then flip
and gloat over that year’s growth: whole 

inches in childhood, a half
inch as we evened-out as teens, even a sliver

where we crammed ourselves in when we visited
at Christmas. As we filled the closet with eggnog, with bourbon
as we breathed. I dreamed 

the new tenants painted the door. I dreamed each pencil
mark vanished, like rungs of a ladder
tugged out. Where I’m left at the top
unable to climb down. I awoke believing 

there’d be no proof left
that my sister and I had ever been
that small. I called 

my parents the day after the nightmare. I asked
if they’d bring the door with them
when the house was sold. I asked them 

to unhinge it. I asked them
to carry it with them.

Journey -Anna Anna Journey is the author of two collections of poetry: Vulgar Remedies (Louisiana State University Press, 2013) and If Birds Gather Your Hair for Nesting (University of Georgia Press, 2009), selected by Thomas Lux for the National Poetry Series. She received a fellowship in poetry from the National Endowment for the Arts and currently teaches creative writing at the University of Southern California.  


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