Vassar Student Review

Vassar Student Review

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A Scene from Within

Three limbs of casing–a door with worn hinges,

One threshold marks the entrance to interiors unknown,

Beyond the way he stands,

Called upright, timid and lanky,

Brother I have come to barely recognize.

Distance stretches him into a man

And I wish to speak to these maturing agents:

Stop doing what it is you do!


I wish to see his growth,

Like a day-to-day vigilante.

That is the position of Mother,

Watchful, I so envy.

She tends to a urine-soaked bed

From a dog who cannot help himself,

Faculties loosened with age,

His tumors limit daily commotion (urine makes restitution)


A blotch, self-adducing and hard to miss,

Grows amid a differentiating eye.

As texture and feel give rise to realization,

Brother folds his arms and steps backward,

Fear to the fore,

His mind sublimates to one fervent need

For hot water on skin–

A quick rinse, he promises.


But his promises are unfaithful;

Mother sings as she strips the bed,

Duvet gone, thinning one sheet at a time.

The night offers no assuage to the laboring woman

Who submits to solutions before submitting to sleep.

It is in her character, some inner will,

That gives and gives,

Changes and cleans.


Our dog has the power to walk between worlds,

With quiet feet and a bowed head he moves

In shameful stride

From one blue-walled bedroom to the next.

In Brother’s he pees,

In mine he watches,

And I’m too left to wonder,

Who really lives across the way,

Beyond piled clothes and Clorox wipes?


That must be the beauty of a teenage boy–

Bare walls, messy beds,

And a crippling fear of the unknown.

What goes on inside his head?

My glimpses are few and far between,

Restricted to aberrant moments

In which I hear the inner voice

As he confronts a dampened spot.


He rambles–first on the mattress,

Then the impotence of antibacterial wipes.

It is a true mystery

How the mind fashions these narratives,

Penetrable only by trust. 

Mother appeals to logic 

Yet the aired-out mattress 

Is of no consolation– he chooses to rest elsewhere. 


Asleep, on the couch? 

All has failed against a willful mind; 

He succumbs to his vices, 

One blanket ‘round the shoulder, 

Pillow in hand, his defeated feet make descent

Down wooden stairs that creak 

From within my room–me to you,

I can hear everything.

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