Volume 30, Number 3

America’s Sweetheart

My monster is my bed
and all the world is under it.
Here in America I have nothing to fear.
I grow up safe inside its mouth,
painting pictures on the blunt backs of its fangs
and hosting tea parties with the bones it brings me.
I run my fingers along the claw marks gouged in the floorboards
and it tells me stories of why they were worth it.
And when it smells a threat
it roars until the house begins to tremor
and crack
and when I plead with it to stop
I learn that I am not in control.

Between breaths of bullets the monster shrugs,
“You’ll understand when you’re older.”
And it calls out,
“You’re still mine.”
And as it leaps over my head
headed who knows where, it whispers,
I’m still yours.
And that is what chills me
most of all.

—Tova Seltzer