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In Every House, a Shadow Beyond the Door


by Arturo Ruiz


It can last from a few seconds to a minute or two and is often associated with hypnogogic hallucinations, things you see when you're trying to wake up.
—Dr. Priyanka Yadav

The doorway, rectangle cut in the peeling white wall,
opens to blackness, where the mind superimposes
shapes and figures emerging from nothing.

I awake in night sweats, attempt to make meaning
from what I think I see beyond the frame. Nothing?
Nothing.

(“People often see someone coming into their room—
they're not able to move or talk or scream or anything.”)

As a child, I believed I saw the outline of a man
ambling like a prisoner of war across the living room—
No way to get to my father's gun in the drawer.

Tonight, the burning rope twists inside. The walking,
the shadow there beyond the door.You are beside
me, and I thumb the scar down the center of your chest.

The shadow comes to rest, stops at the door, speaks
by swapping out images in my thoughts—
Can I reveal them to you? Rusted bike. Dirt path

through sugar cane. Abandoned house. My father
aiming at a door. A shadow? A glare? Just for fun?
Just for fun. This is my rifle. This is my gun.

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