by Michael Passafiume
As a childit was not unusual to lookat the bedroom doorwayfrom my bottom bunk & stareinto the vacant eyes
tight-lipped sneer of Dracula,to turn away & back,away & backuntil they were no longer there& decide it was safe to allow myselfto slip out of consciousness.As a childthe recurring nightmarewas of a Sasquatch-like giantchasing me through a hilly expanse,trees few & far between,the giant close on my heels, rippinglarge tufts of grassy dirt outof the earth & throwing them at melike grenades whose purpose was not
to tear apart but to
entomb.As a childit was not uncommon to find mesleepwalking through the upstairshallway then downstairs to the frigidliving room where one or bothof my parents would be watching TV—a nine-year-old zombie standing
in a different expanse,
melodramatic music swelling in-betweenover-enthusiastic commercial chatter,the zombie finally settling intoa dark mustard-colored armchair,head pointed toward the TV,coaxed, eventually, into sleepwalkingback to bed or perhaps ferriedthere on his father's back,cherry-scented pipe smoke steepedinto a royal blue velour robelulling him back to sleep.As a childthe pediatrician's diagnostic manualheld no entries forDoorway Monsters,Recurring Nightmares orSemi-Conscious Sleepwalking,no instructions on how the childwas to be held.So instead the pediatrician offereda vaguely reassuring smile, said,He'll grow out of it soon enough but for nowtry some baby aspirin.I no longer sleepwalk,the odd nightmare spitting meback into a crooked worldwhere monsters have cloaked themselvesin anxiety & depression,where predictable routineshold me in place,where the man I've become wonderswhat happened to the menI became.