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FOUR WAY BOOKS: John Donoghue, Precipice
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Four Way Books
John Donoghue

ISBN: 1-884800-28-9
paper, 63 pages, $13.95


The crying child gets up from his bed to look
for his father. He has dreamed of another family--
stucco farmhouse, dry weeds
blowing against a wall. In the dream, he enters the backdoor
and his dream father, sitting in the kitchen,
looks up and smiles. But now he's running through his real house,
confused by two fathers,
two places to live. In his parents' room he finds a comforting

mound of covers. Dada!  he cries, just as a huge bear
sits up in the bed. Stunned, the child staggers and falls;
the bear snatches him up and runs from the house to the woods
behind the house, the child
hanging from its mouth, arms and legs
flopping, wide-eyed and dazed.


Upstairs in the house his parents are talking
in bed--about what each would do
if the other died, recalling their own
real and longed-for parents. When their crying
son runs in the father sits up and smiles; the boy,
gaping, staggers and falls; his father
rushes from the bed and carries him back,
holding him to his chest.

And as if the body could save itself
by saying real--dreamed, by dividing
the sheet of paper into front
and back, so the father
holds his son to him and says,
Shh, it was just a dream.