The Weather Inside the House by Kevin Chesser

A long time ago, 
I thought of a number in my head, 
and everywhere I went, I asked people to guess it. 
What it’s between, they would say. 
You and me, I’d say. With eyes 
like strip mined moons, 
they could never guess it.

I enjoyed my number.
It was a rewarding secret, like a haunted house 
only I could go to, 
a family member only I could see.

One day, 
mom and dad sat me down
with eyes wide as halved oranges and said son, 
tell us the number 
before it gets you killed. 
I told them the number 
would never hurt me, 
or anyone. I’m sure animals knew it though. 

at the zoo there was a panther, 
and how it looked at me told me 
it knew the number, 
but wouldn’t tell anyone, 
it promised, with twinkling 
prisoner eyes.

Next day, 
I heard on the news the panther
ate a couple of kids that fell 
into its enclosure, but no one’s sure 
exactly how many.

It’s important everyone has their secrets. 
Otherwise, the world is just
a bunch of wars. Houses.

Kevin Chesser is a writer and musician living in West Virginia. His poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Hobart, Kestrel, A Void, and elsewhere. He earned his MFA in poetry from West Virginia Wesleyan College, and is a frequent contributor to the Travelin' Appalachians Revue, a collective promoting experimental literature & music throughout the Appalachian region.

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