So many tales begin
in an alley, perhaps,
in the rain. A plump rat
embarks on a foray, having
plumbed the stink pit of a dumpster,
the color of which is
indistinguishable from the surrounding brick,
puddles, stripped sky, the narrow tube —
all that you would expect to find
in a tale that begins
with a night, with an alley,
with a dumpster, with a rat,
in the rain. At that point,
you would expect the narrator,
that conjurer of plight to reveal,
some thought, some noir recollection
that led him to this alley, on this night,
in this rain: perhaps love gone astray;
perhaps running or, more simply, bad directions.
And if our narrator were to turn and display
that behind him is a wall, topped with
concertina wire or broken glass,
then the obvious response, within
the reader is, “how did he get there,
back to the wall, looking out?” —
A convenient leading trope.
All that is left then, is the suspension
of disbelief, the disbelief in the logic
of ill placement. A decision has been made,
yes, whether it be of the author
or the tale. We know only this,
all the windows are barred, and he is there,
in the alley, in the rain, in the dark.
There are no other available inputs,
only escape and slow simmered panic. Is there a door?
Look around you. Is there a ladder, wet,
treacherous, that may lead to a roof?
Look around you. You may choose
to climb into the refuse untouched
by the rat. You may choose, as a possible
alternative, to move quiet toward the street,
where other vague grays mull like wine,
as every bottle has a neck. Whichever outcome, and
whether you choose to read on,
only one thing is truly certain:
All tales begin the same —
in the first person, limited.