Stephen
What-or-Who?
by Carol A. Stephen

A simple knock at the front door
in a tempo of anybody-home?
segues to an urgency of fist
against steel, a tremor of glass,
an I-know-you’re-in-there! pounding.

I stop halfway down the stairs, curiosity
elbowed away by fear of what-I’ll-find
when I turn the handle, release the lock—
I tiptoe over tiles, slide slowly into
the windowed room beside the door,
turn louvered blinds to crack daylight:
what-or-who is hammering outside?

I see only a cast shadow, someone standing
too close to the door to be seen.
A long-dead-grandmother voice whispers
Never open the door to strangers.

 I tremble behind concealing blinds
in a sweat of what-comes-next
remembering the family rules:

Don’t ever trust other women.
Pretend that you’re not home, and—sssshhh!
Never tell your mother grandma’s secrets.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: What-or-Who? was inspired by a childhood memory of my grandmother, who always whispered that we pretend we weren’t home, and how such childhood memories might inform our experiences, fears and behaviours as adults.

stephen

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Carol A. Stephen’s poetry appears in Poetry Is Dead, June 2017, and numerous print publications, including Wintergreen Studios chapbooks, Sound Me When I’m Done and Teasing the Tongue. Online poems appear at Silver Birch Press, Topology Magazine, The Light Ekphrastic, and With Painted Words.  She won third prize in the CAA National Capital Writing Contest, and was featured in Tree’s Hot Ottawa Voices.  She served on the board for Canadian Authors Association-NCR and co-directed Ottawa’s Tree Reading Series. She has five chapbooks, two released in 2018 — Unhook, catkin press, Carleton Place, and Lost Silence of the Small, Local Gems Press, Long Island, NY.  In 2019, Winning the Lottery, Surviving Clostridium Difficile was published by Crowe Creations.ca.