The Nightmare

I saw the beast, he says,

Eyes wide, worn cotton blanket tucked

Under one arm.

With a jaguars body

And bear’s feet

And a lion’s mouth—

The devil!

 

What did he do? His mother asks.

Maybe he’s ugly but he’s not so bad,

Maybe he’s powerful but gentle still, maybe

He walks the earth just to tell us something

Good and whole and pure.

 

He wasn’t, mother,

The boy whispers, afraid.

Everyone worshipped him, and

Him alone. And they forgot God,

And all the children danced around him, and

They were happy, very happy.

 

So? His mother asks.

So, he says, shaken,

He ate them all up.

All of the children danced around him

As he ate them one by one:

Very happy, very happy,

Then nothing at all.

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