Norman Prentiss

Cabinet People

It’s sad to be alone and old, but worse
to feel threatened. They wear black hooded robes
that slide quietly against the walls as they turn
corners. They whisper in midnight wind–a hiss
through medicated fog.

                               Most of the time
they live in the cabinets. You can almost hear
conversations about your clothes, your diet,
your friends who seldom call. They know which pills
you take to help with the forgetting.

Logic cannot trump the senses. You don’t
wonder: how did they get there, what do they eat,
why does no one else see them? Because
you see them, Lora, hear their evil plotting.
Cabinet people are patient; their rituals follow
secret timetables.

                                  On television
a magician separates his assistant from herself.
Vaguely, you remember how the trick works:
she’s contorted into the box’s upper half.
The sectioned girl glances from the screen;
her smile doesn’t comfort you.

Instead, you stand there, back against the wall,
both hands tight around the plastic handle
of an awkwardly poised steak knife. You hope
your granddaughter and her husband will visit soon.