When I was young my father would tell me
That upon the night of my sixteenth birthday, I’d become
One of two things:
A werewolf or a vampire—He didn’t know which
But it was in my blood, he said.
And as a child, barely sprouting from the Earth
Standing three feet, four feet,
Gazing upward of a thousand feet I could not reach nor fathom but
I would gather from his expression
This was no joke.
I was a monster.
Or, rather, I would become one.
A cruel trick on my ability to conjure a twisted reality,
For the child’s mind is that of a universe expanding.
If you turn out the lights, the darkness consumes,
And space becomes infinite.
In such a space, where the confines are broken shackles,
A werewolf is as tangible as the family dog
(Though it bares its teeth more often)
And a vampire just needs a taste for blood
(Or a pair of false teeth for show)
Yes, to me, these monsters were real.
A man could become a wolf if he were bitten and the moon full,
A woman could burn by the gaze of sunlight or holy water singe her skin.
And because the words came from my father,
I accepted them
With the chill of fear that constricted my scream.
I was a monster, more or less.
It wasn’t a joke.
But as my proximity to the Earth exchanged with the sky,
The dark of my mind began to fade.
I could then see how the dark hid shapes,
Created what was only of dreams.
The reality of monsters was not of the undead and animal,
But of the flesh that spoke with teeth and grinned,
Pumping blood to warm the eyes—
But mine boiled and chilled at once.
I tried to darken the lights.
The sun was too bright.
And even at night, the stars fought to illuminate my expanding universe.
The monsters were too close, could shake my hand, could cradle it,
Could consume it.
If I were a monster, I was a vampire.
I didn’t like the sun.
It wasn’t a joke.
The day I turned sixteen I towered over my father,
No longer gazing upward of a thousand feet,
But six feet under in a casket of ashes.
He wasn’t there to see my transformation.
And I wasn’t there to tell him that
My skin was pallid and veins purple,
My eyes were dark and listless
And my sun was hidden
For the love of moonlight, to preserve my
But I wasn’t a monster.
It had always been a joke.