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Susan Gunter

On the Spring Creek Road

The cat slept nights, Ernest too

when he could. More often he prowled.

He roamed through the shingled house

and tested his alarms, set

a rifle triggered by his step,

pointing at the spring.

He strung tin cans like beads

along the wire to warn the dead

and burnt his oil lamp low.

Smells of grease and boiled coffee

haunted his two bare rooms,

and bowls of curdled cream circled

the rug, its coils tight as snails.

No matter how he watched,

on black nights they found his door.

They came in swastikas, with six-pointed

stars through bayonets, and they looked,

they looked exactly like the soldiers

in the comics stacked in hundreds by his bed.

Ernest marked the days and years

by the cycles of the moon,

until the neighbors called him mad

and took him from the farm.

We never found his cache,

but we almost made our way to China

digging near the spring.

Susan E. Gunter has published poems in America, Bulgaria, England, Montenegro, and Sweden. Her reviews have appeared in American Arts Quarterly, Crab Creek Review, the Harvard Review, the Henry James Review, Victorian Studies, and other journals. She has also published three academic books on the James family.

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