Phobias Incorporated

Father Giuliano, the drama instructor, fainted
every time he saw blood.
When a nun in the class, newly acquainted
with stagecraft,
fed a hand to the band saw, Giuliano was the one
who had to be treated. My mother
applauded the hero.

                                              At the first clap of thunder,
she ran to the bureau for the rosary.
All through a stormy upbringing
under the kitchen sink after dark,
I repeated my lines. No wonder I link priest and parent,
twins in a Siamese startlement: Blood and Thunder,
Thunder and Blood. Pray for us…
at the hour of death

                                              The real drama begins with
a thud — my sister — not claustrophobic, not
acrophobic, plunging from bed,
riding the nightmare bedrails. Her elevator shaft
endangered us all, marked women,
dumb waiters adrift on a sunken Titanic. Days
I rode up and down, wherever the tenants were going
for fun, not pushing the panic button.
I was afraid of cats.

                                              It's a circular story
and that's where I leave it: the Siamese leap
sucking breath, old wives'
tales, the alley cats my sister brought home
sheltered from storm,
early death of a hero and always
the drawn blood informing
our several lives.