Travelers Welcome

Travelers Welcome

Tuesday, September 18, 2012


by Richard Hartwell

Mossy wooden shingles on a peaked roof,
naked and exposed on the underside with
no ceiling, concrete slab for a floor, probably
poured in the late forties or early fifties,
about the same time as the eight car garage.

Chipped, weathered forest green exterior,
long, narrow, and the moodily dark interior.

This woodshed, east of the upscale house,
home of black widows and tarantulas; a
place of creation and repairs, seduction,
molestation of memories, and misery; a
place of reconsideration of nightmares.

            *     *     *
She used to tame the tarantulas,
teaching them to climb her arms,
to transfer hand over hand,
fascinating me, transfixed
by her dexterity and calm.

Once she also sawed and carved,
then whittled a toy sailboat for me,
with brass eye connections for
mast and boom, shrouds and stays,
all manner of tackle, and cloth sails.

Those were the days of creation,
days of a joyous youth spent there.

The days of seduction, molestation, and
misery, were days when only she was
there to receive what she could not
combat, too young to refuse or refute
a frequenter to the shed for discipline.

The cliché of a spanking in a woodshed
was all too real for her, but carried too
far by a father, her adoptive father, who
went from slaps behind to caresses before;
who went from correction to her despair.

She never spoke of this sin against her,
she did not need to, for her clothes and
glum demeanor disavowed summer; I,
though much younger than she, could see
beyond dead tarantulas and broken spars.

Tortured toys, stabbed spiders, and reconsideration of nightmares,
ended by open beams, her avenue of escape from hurt and shame.

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