Cellar Door ©

By Roy Dean Doughty
Written August 12th, 2009

Listen here for my reading of “Cellar Door.”


Every year the old root cellar drifted farther
From the house, and the number of steps
Down into that abandoned hole
Seemed to multiply, so that what was once
Familiar as a place to store milk and eggs,
Only an easy step from mother’s kitchen,
Was now an enigma to be shunned.
And yet that weathered door
Incongruously lodged in its grassy mound
Held an inexorable appeal.  Also,
The experience of stepping from noon
To midnight without any mediating
Gradations crashed polar opposites
Together in that darkness in a way
That was thrillingly alluring.
The place ate children, hands on long
Tentacles darting out like swallows
At dusk to pull them in and down.
Down.  Once in, that was the sole
Direction one could move.  Down.
Out, of course, was no longer even
A concept.  And how the lost one
Changed in that descent!  where black
Stars, like locusts, swarm into the body’s
Defenseless cavities, their fluxes and floes
Captaining that strange, amorphous integrity
So typical of childhood’s exuberant explorations.
So that even now, as you look around, your eyes
Only two probes that bob on flexing wires,
You cannot say how you got here,
Or who you are, and when those small,
Blue-skinned people come out of their cloud
To collect you as their food, you will
No longer even have arms to fend them off,
Or a mouth to cry to no one: “I am gone.”

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