Where the Wild Things Are

Aliah Fabros

Dad set Twilight Struggle on the kitchen table
Set soviet Union plans of attack and moth bitten cards
in little mountain stacks,
an entire range
and mom is the sun
Seeping tall and scottish red behind the counter
lavender soap hands
glinting under rush of water
Propped on the dining chairs,
pink silk of little sister feet
Cherry blossom lips counting
one two three one two three
knees dip, like a toe in a pond

He wondered when the hallway had become a telescope

In the distance
his family bathing in late
afternoon window pane sun dust
their small talk fluttering back to his bedroom
Where he stood, cold feet scraping against hardwood in the doorway
Battleship gray eyes soaking in pink silk shrieks
As dad throws her off her feet
onto the couch

The shush of deflating leather
humphs of pillows tossed

He watches strong dad, with strong arms, and strong belly laugh
tackle their girls in warmth
We should be ready in five! If I can just get the little one in control

Belly bells are tickled out of his sister
The kind that pierce like wind chimes on a summer's day
The only sound that can make the journey back to him
Still saturated in the smells of august, bleached hilltops and wildflower
As if boyhood had never left

He calls back
Voice cracked on throat thick,
hands spools of twine spun into fists
He shuts the door.

Sudden alone

A jarring ringing
stifled by unsteady breathing
Presses palms slick to edge of bed
scrubbed raw linen
rests his head
against chest that rises and falls
Body knowing nothing at all
just the creaking of gates being pulled open
and the salt in the floods that follow
Wet eyes and puffy lips

He cries.

He cries and does not see
as sunlight creeps off bedside table
slipping through cracks in crown molding
day sliding under floorboards
Time is passing

Battleship gray swells shut
he gulps down storms
feels caged seagulls in his ribs

Does not taste the pine in the wind
Dewy grass sprouts between the pipes beneath him
Does not smell minerally balm spread onto air by rainfall
Nor hear scuttle and scamper of dirty paws drown the hum of the heater

Too lost, spluttering sobs into sheets
The way sea spits waves into coves
To see his room be swallowed whole

He woke to drums and animal cry
Sound dull and rumbling
as wild things big and small beat their thighs
Bed lit by bonfire roar
Illuminating wood and glinting horns

They danced in hundreds and in circles
Mouths thundering,
engulfing tremors of flute and crash of tamborine
Fur matted, glassy eyes
They sang snarls, thistles, and fright

Quiet down!
He stood on his bed, only piece of home left
Floating in forest floor
Quiet down, my parents will hear you!!

Yet wild things carved out stars with their talons
and offered them at his feet
romping round the bed
Soot tracks streaking newly washed sheets
They roared their terrible roars
and gnash their terrible teeth
and rolled their terrible eyes
and showed their terrible claws

He burrowed face into pillow cover
Letting childhood fill nostrils
Lull his mind into white noise panic
Frantically pulling blanket over burning ears
and streaming cheeks
He screams and screams and screams

The covers flutter round him
color of firelight
he is nested in this makeshift refuge
body rocking
Back and forth
The shadows of creatures gleam past
Like headlights
Whisking this way and that
Drawing nearer


The drumming of his heart stomps out
The rumpus

He shivers in bed, until one slips it’s
Furry head under the covers
Muddy eyes, mildly surprised at the sudden command
You can’t go being loud like that, or they’ll hear you
You have to be quiet, understand?
You can’t make a sound

While he cowered on his knees
The beasts howled and crowned him king
Chanting grow up
and never forget us
Until his trembling lips began to sing along
Until he was tossed onto his own bed
And they piled on his chest
Paper crown yellow and digging into his head

He woke to warm sticky daybreak
and sensed these things first:
tickle of lemon grass
Thwip of skipping stones
round, smooth ones like blue jay eggs
and hot, burly breaths
beating down his back

Body slumped over the shoulder
Of a wild thing
Except this beast had wider eyes
and stouter snout
He was strong with strong arms
and strong belly laugh
Carrying him away from steaming fire
and snarling snores of the rest

Where are you taking me?
Wild thing looked down fondly,
Used leathery paw to stroke sleep from his face
They sat down, side by cliffside
boy trying to be man
Beast trying to be boy
In silence
wind rustling of poppies
That stuck to his pajama sleeves

I’m scared of them
his thoughts for the first time breaking away
like tumbleweed
I’m scared of you too
That you’ll hate me,
for not being a real king

He buried himself in it’s bristly chest
It’s claws patted his scruff

You are not dirty
For feeling things, boy

Sandy lips kissed his head

A storm brought you here
and it will you bring you back
Set sail with bravery, boy

Even the paper on your head
If made into a boat
can float in these waters

Tortoiseshell eyes cast down
Looking past him to rocky ground
Where branches crunch and morning fog rolls
Over the island
Where his wild things have made their home

I only wish, you told me sooner

And so he set out
Pillowcase sails
Into the sea
Finding himself once again
In his bedroom
Where not even a sniff of pine lingered

And he remembered the drums
The burn of bonfire
The terrible roars, and terrible teeth,
Terrible eyes and terrible -
He clawed at his arms and face
hating every stitch of skin

A knock on the door.
Frame creaking against the weight of dads shoulders
Hey bud, we’re ready when you are

From some quiet tide within
tickle of lemon grass
and wide, dewy eyes
He began to stroke his face
And tried again

I love you so
Thwip, the skipping of stones
I didn’t mean what I said
I love you so . .