Summer nights we played at camping
in our own backyard, built a pillowy fortress
inside Dad’s old two-man tent,  

stayed up talking into the cricket-filled corners
of long July nights. I was never spooked
until the wee hours, when there came

a clanging of chains, that witchy
old lady next door letting her demonic 
dogs out. Once I woke to a shadow

on the canvas, the shape of a face
I imagined was hers, outline
illuminated by lightning

bugs that danced outside, drunk
on darkness. Stricken with terror,
unable to rouse my sister, I unzipped

the door, wiggled my way out, ran
toward the glow of the magic
circle on the back deck, yellow

halo safe from spirits, the exterior light
our parents left on just in case
we ever got scared.