Phobia

By Eleanor Hooker

Its etymology you say is this:  foe—
as in rival who, as they eviscerate,
dons an oh-come-now smile, and of whom it is said
has skin in the game (yours apparently).
Bia, as in the Irish for food, as in victuals,
as in … for thought, as in fare
Tom cultivates in his sky room—
grub farmed in his father’s urn.
It is noctiphobia; fear of rescue and nights
in light armor, of that man on Radio 4.
Foe-bia is a compound word, you say, serious now,
for lasting, unreasonable fear. It’s the half turn of  tears
that come too soon—cry me a river, I cried a river over you.

It’s pronounced phobia, I say—fear
that grows inside fear—fear of that long slow
light in the back field, of the girl lost there,
in the night, away for a dark year. Yes,
I say, it’s all that, and fear the rain will rend
the sky, drown stars, and fill my empty arms
for eternity. It’s a fear of living a first life,
of riding a war train to war, of my mother dying,
over and over, her deathbed lifted by rain
and carried through silken solitude,
tipping surrender flags above the door.

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