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Listen, you are OK. I don’t mean you’re ok, I don’t mean you’re fine or safe. You’re neither of those things. You never will be either of those things. You are OK. That’s your name. I know it’s a strange name but you’re more than used to it after sixteen years and besides everyone else here has names like that. Your father is HT and your mother is D4 and your brother, the dead one, was 7J. That’s just how things are.  Listen.  That’s what the Pale Man said to you.  Listen, OK.  You were bathing in the lake when the Pale Men came.   You are used to men watching you bathe in the lake.  You are sixteen and have breasts and your face isn’t disfigured or strange.  You don’t even have any scars because your father never beat you.  The sky was clear and the sun was huge and pale. The sun is always huge and pale.  There is no moon on this side of the earth.  The Pale Men are huge and pale.  They have no eyes and their bodies are clean of hair.  Their skin is smooth and cold like a snake’s.  There are four of them.  There are always four of them.  The one who speaks, the Pale Man, tells you to follow him.  You follow him through the forest to the cliffs.  Below you is the valley and beyond the valley is the city and beyond the city is the tower.  The sun hangs in the sky behind the tower so the tower looks like it’s cutting up through the sun. The sky is white.  “Listen,” says the pale man, “you need to go the tower.”  It’s not a suggestion.  You know that.  Your father once told you that if the Pale Men come for you they won’t suggest what they want.  You’re still naked but the Pale Man doesn’t care.  He hasn’t once looked at you like everyone else looks at you.  “Why?” you ask him but he doesn’t answer.  That night you find it hard to sleep so you sit outside your parents’ tent and listen to the cicadas.  A wolf is howling.  There are too many wolves in the valley.  Eventually you fall asleep and in your dream the Pale Man is there. He has got into your dreams.  You are walking through the valley with him and the wolves are watching. In the dream they only watch but you know that isn’t how they’d really act. They want to devour you.  Everyone wants to devour you.  You follow the Pale Man through the dead city and into the tower.  You climb the tower and when you reach the top you open a door and come out onto a balcony.  The sun is huge and pale.  A boy is standing on the balcony.  The sun turns black and the boy turns black and you wake.  Listen, now you’re wake you have a choice. You can go back inside and get into bed with your parents and pretend that the Pale Man never suggested anything. Or you can go now. You can leave like 7J did.  Listen, it’s best not to wake them. They’ll only cry.  Just go, ok.


About michaeleganpoetry

Liverpool based poet and editor. I have had four pamphlets of poetry published, most recently After Stikklestad (Knives, Forks and Spoons Press, 2010). Penned in the Margins published my first collection, Steak & Stations, in 2010.

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