You Can’t Hear the Lizards Chewing by Sage Ravenwood

We had moved to the land of baby dinosaurs.

Anole lizards and my brother’s popping sunburnt

blisters, NY kids molting into FL

tatterdemalions regrowing our tails like geckos.

Old neighborhoods and grandma’s house

welcomed us back that summer to a world

full of lost and found friendships.

Familiar as the crotchet blanket covering me.

Donny and Marie Osmond singing ‘I’m a little bit

of country, I’m a little bit of rock and roll’, on tv.

As familiar as a kid’s glee staying up late,

lights turned off watching a Halloween special,

fingers laced between granny squares pulled

up under their nose. The thrill of ducking under cover

with each throated scream screeching from 70’s Zenith

speakers. Too scared to crawl out and turn the volume

down. Snuggled in, eyes squeezed so tight I’m seeing red

slushies from the 7-Eleven. Whispering, ’Go to sleep

stupid.’ Loud static burst shrieks crackling in the air.                                                     

Fireworks bloom in the dark behind my eyelids.

‘I’ll get you my pretty!’ screamed the witch in my ear.

Breathing heavy with little kid determination,

I dared to peek from beneath the blanket. Garish red

shadows crawled across the living room windows

trying to get in. My scream is stuck in my throat.

I can’t breathe. I run to grandpa’s bed,

crawl under the covers shaking like a baby

woodchuck with a feral cat clawing at its behind.

I don’t remember waking the next morning.

The fire had awoken everyone after feasting

on the front porch and it was entirely my fault.

It grew behind my eyelashes.

Never mind grandpa smoked like a chimney

or that grandma hated cigarette butts languishing

in ashtrays. I was the one who hid.

The ashtrays overflowed for days after

until my mother came for us.

Daddy stayed behind. You learn quickly

an adult’s silence hurts; you learn

your fear has teeth and eats everything

around you. You stop being afraid because

the silence has bigger teeth. The only sound

you hear for the rest of your life is it’s chewing.

Sage Ravenwood is a deaf Cherokee woman residing in upstate NY with her two rescue dogs, Bjarki and Yazhi, and her one-eyed cat Max. She is an outspoken advocate against animal cruelty and domestic violence. Her work can be found in Glass Poetry – Poets Resist, The Temz Review, Contrary, trampset, Pittsburgh Poetry Journal, Pioneertown Literary, Grain, Sundress Press anthology – The Familiar Wild: On Dogs and Poetry, The Rumpus, Lit Quarterly, PØST, Massachusetts Review, Savant-Garde, ANMLY (Anomaly), River Mouth Review, Native Skin Lit, Santa Clara Review, The Normal School, KHÔRA, Pinhole Poetry, and more forthcoming.