Four Nightmares

Photo by Tersius van Rhyn via Unsplash



Four Nightmares


It choked her path in the first one,
tall as a wall, wide
as the sea at night. It spewed
darkness, waves of it
clogging the shore of her sleep.
She was somewhere near it,
but couldn’t see herself.
Beyond, was the world she knew,
and beyond it, the world
she wanted to inhabit, layers
and layers of fragile reality
the dream made impossible to cross.

She walked into that wall,
was sucked into its cold embrace
and thought this
is what death must feel like.
An awakening of the senses,
an eagerness for pain, a welcoming
of punishment. It ended
as it began, abruptly.

The sea turned golden, a liquid sun
that burned what it touched:
skin, tongue, the white
of her eyes. The wings off her back.
Small loss in the grand
scheme of things, where no one
believed she could fly.

The third was a bridge, an archway,
an aqueduct. It looked
like a semicolon; she had always
wanted to use one,
but never learned how.
She walked across and woke up.
The room was the same.
The morning light through the curtains.
The taste in her mouth. Even
the face in the mirror.

She touched the charred stubs
on her back, stroked that memory
of having been hitched, however
fleetingly, to something
that could blot out the sky.
If she closed her eyes, she could
almost see herself walking
on air, dark feathers sweeping
the ground. She could
almost believe herself winged.


First published by The Normal School: A Literary Magazine, winter 2019

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