I grew up in an old farmhouse in Michigan;
born in 1948, my earliest memories were of books so old,
that now they would be considered quite archaic: children's
books of cloth pages, illustrated with grim,
unsmiling visages of Mother Goose or Aesop.
Books of old stories and legends with pages so brittle,
that corners flaked off at the turning, books made for
the children of my father's era, when students were
routinely beaten, sometimes to death, by their
Legend has it that the Brennan
family came to Michigan from Canada, when a teacher
had inflicted fatal punishment on one of their children.
The child was forced repeatedly, in the course of a day, to
stand in front of a hot furnace, then to stand
outside in the brutal Canadian cold of winter, again and
again. The child died of pneumonia. The Brennans, seeing this
as part of a death plot against Irish Catholics, left Canada.
Old Books. Collections of stories and essays by Nathaniel
Hawthorne, Washington Irving, Voltaire, and Cotton Mather.
And sometimes, not here, but in the OLD Places, where THEY
wait (coiled serpents who once ruled, for Aeons before man,
they ruled, now they long to take back their world),
beneath the Earth, sometimes only a heartbeat away, there,
and only there, I beheld the
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