Night Terrors

The President is taking Hydroxychloroquine,
tweeting, "I started taking it because I think it's good.
I've heard a lot of good stories." Has he heard the ones

about side effects? we wonder: agitation, hallucinations,
paranoia, and psychosis. And don't forget the night terrors,
my mother says, don't you remember? And I do,

and I don't. I had never connected my midnight
tossing, the startled wakefulness, the screams
rushing my parents to my room, to the generic,

Plaquenil, I was taking in my twenties, not for Covid,
but for lupus, the wolf howling deep inside my bones.
I had simply thought I remained body-haunted,

was having my "dark-man" dreams, was lost, again,
in the grip of my childhood tormentor who lived, still,
just blocks away, unaccused, unmolested.

I was that young girl framed in my mother's hallway,
all dark circles and seriousness in my patchwork sundress.
I was seven, eight, nine . . . and barely sleeping,

not concentrating, falling behind. Things had happened to me
for which I had no words. At night I revisited them
in dreams. Forty years later, the president takes a pill,

and a door opens upon my earliest memory –
an image I've always had with me but never knew
where to file. This is a day-terror, perhaps hallucination:

I am swinging in the garden, my mother inside,
doing mother-things, when I see him, a grown man
with a dark wolf's face, on the other side of the brick wall

where the local lizard suns himself, the wall where the people
are supposed to stay on the outside.
Suddenly, my heart is pounding. Urine runs down my legs.

I can't stop the swing fast enough, thinking, please, please
don't open the gate. That night I awake in twisted sheets,
tangled in the first "dark-man" dream.

Listen. I am not twenty, or nine or seven.
I am hardly anybody.
I am three.

About the Author

Hayley Mitchell Haugen holds a PhD in English from Ohio University and an MFA in poetry from the University of Washington. She is Professor of English at Ohio University Southern, where she teaches courses in composition, American literature, and creative writing. Her chapbook What the Grimm Girl Looks Forward To appears from Finishing Line Press (2016), and poems have appeared, or are forthcoming, in Chiron Review, Gyroscope, Rattle, Slant, Spillway,and other journals. Light & Shadow, Shadow & Light from Main Street Rag Publishing Company (2018) is her first full-length collection. Her second chapbook, The Blue Wife Poems, will be published by Kelsay Books in Fall 2022. She edits Sheila-Na-Gig online: and Sheila-Na-Gig Editions.