Child Fears, 1956 by Laura Ann Reed

Child Fears, 1956
                       —After Jim Harrison

Jellyfish. Egg whites. False teeth.
Undertows. Mean kids. Bomb drills.
The neighbors’ dog that bit off my kitten’s head.
Old T.V. newsreels of Nazis. Polio.
My aunt with the goiter and bulging eyes.
Snakes on the fire trail. Bobcats in the canyon.
Bees in the grass. Cat poop in the sandbox.
Walk-in closets. Rip tides. The circus.
My grandfather’s open coffin.
The flying monkeys in The Wizard of Oz.
Mussorgsky’s The Night on Bald Mountain.
Pictures of missing children on milk cartons.
The shadow of my hand on the wall.
Falling into the hole they dug for my grandfather.


Laura Ann Reed, a San Francisco Bay Area native, taught modern dance and ballet at the University of California, Berkeley before working as leadership development trainer at the San Francisco headquarters of the United States Environmental Protection Agency. Her work has appeared in numerous journals and anthologies in the United States, Canada and Britain. She is the author of the chapbook, Shadows Thrown, (Sungold Editions, 2023). Laura and her husband live in the Pacific Northwest.

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