For Betty Lou

The big war was over,
the new one not begun.
Your father put away
his Navy uniform
and found a job selling shoes
at Lowenstine’s.
Your brother Tommy
was conceived.

Summer was ending,
the days growing shorter,
the air turning cool
when the sun went down.

You and I walked downtown
carrying sweaters for
the trip back home.
Starlings roosting in trees above
the white-splotched sidewalks
cackled as we passed below.  

The Lake Theater. So long ago.
We watched in horror as a woman
changed into a gorilla.

When it was over
we hurried home beneath
a shroud of overhanging branches,
pursued by the specter of darkness.

I watched you disappear
behind your unlocked door,
then scurried across the alley
toward my own,
sensing in every shadow
a lurking presence.

The Art of Patricia Whiting