That Place

Summer broke on the backs of children,
even though swings performed miracles
and breezes sang psalms.

For that summer, from the outskirts
of some far off even whimsical place
came the low resolute moo of a dragon.

A child, of course, could not recognize that fabled moo
or the serpentine tail close to her feet,
wound up among the thistle and milkweed
like a hose.

Nor for that matter could she recognize
the starry white bone left upright in the sandbox
like some remarkable claw
or shovel.

Not when the sun was out and games continued.
Certainly not when there was summer love
and rootbeer.

But at dusk when the fog crept in,
thick and sweating,
suggesting some kind of burning far off,
down over there,

(where someone once saw two eyes

– pale as October moons –

blink)

a child could know the meaning
of fall.

And that August, two weeks before school began,
some children went down to that place

and they never came back.

— Mark Z. Danielewski (from “House of Leaves”)