3 Nightmares

I’m back in the school auditorium with its chipping ceiling and

hard backed seats. There is a new clock on the wall with hands

made of a young girl’s finger bones. Tonight’s entertainer stands

in the front of the room and the music begins. It is tinny and

discordant like a forgotten ballad, perhaps about a man who

cannot lie, or maybe it’s like the music out of speakers in Chernobyl.

I always wondered about those people who had the job of picking

up pieces that had been held or used by the once loved, hated,

respected, doomed who had once been walking in that same spot.

And I wondered even more about those men who had disappeared

in flashes of ecstatic light. Did their shadows end up weighing

anything more than a feather? On stage the dance begins: a whirl of

misused colors, a flash of quickly bruising flesh, and then he

is bowing to us. The bow is sarcastic and he is waiting for the

the applause that he knows we must provide. My hands are clapping

until I’m leaving bloody prints on the blouse of my best friend as

I try to hold her close and imagine that I can hear the flutter

of breath still coming from her lips. But, it sounds nothing like



The closet opened up as I was cleaning inside it and it lead into

a room that I don’t remember where the seas spread out around me

and I’m still holding a pair of shoes that can never be worn again.

The arch of his foot was beautiful and I’m not an artist but I could

still tell. Then there was the glass and I remember thinking that

blood shouldn’t be like that. I thought of it filling in the shape of his

toes where he had walked through the sand and I fall to my knees

and try to kiss them but they are only just shapes; some meaningless

memory of weight. And I’m just in a cramped closet holding a

pair of shoes that will never be worn again.


It was in the café where I had first met him. We had once drunk

crazy things together. He sipped Twisted Raspberry Lemonades

and I drank an Upside Down Pineapple Extreme. I remember

how lovely the whipped cream felt as it slid up the glass and onto

my fingers. It was the newspaper in my hands and the sudden

realization that I had lost him. I went to find him at the basement

of my dead best friend’s house. I don’t know why I thought that

he would be there; except that I remembered playing in there as

a child and crouching down in the corner and listening to my friend

as she counted back from twenty and when she found me she

laughed and it sounded just exactly like spring rain falling on the

plants in my mother’s garden. Of course, my friend hasn’t been

here for years and the basement is icy dark and cold. My breath

curls out of my mouth like smoke and I can imagine shapes there as

if I were watching clouds. And there are two people already down here.

They were waiting for me, I think. I recognize one of them as the

lover of my sister who I had never met. She was the one who

drowned when the lake broke out of its manmade cage and ripped

a strange new river across our hometown and— Oh. God. She’s

looking up at me, empty-eyed gorgeous, and with her mouth all

shut up and bleeding down her front and the faceless man on the

ground is swirling his fingers in the wasted red. He is painting

a mural of a woman with no features and whose hands are made

out of sticks. I run out; my feet are pounding a rhythm of escape.

Somehow I reach the city; the same one where the glass once

fell and littered the streets with tiny shards of other people’s

fears. The sun is at the peak of its impossible height and the light

breaks my thirsty lips with the hungry force of a kiss between

the recently re-found. In front of me a little girl in white splashes

in a mud puddle and gets red splotches and patterns all up and down

her dress. She looks like a winter battlefield. And now I can’t go

anymore. The press of distance, of ink on paper, of a face I won’t

see, of a shoe that won’t feel weight in it again, is all too heavy.

So I lie down in the street and caress the concrete with my hands

and I can taste what it will taste like when they catch me:

copper, salt, sharp, and cold. So, I wake up the empty house with

my screams and it feels like it almost could be ecstasy. But

I know that’s not true.



*This is a recently recovered prose poem I wrote in one of my first creative writing courses! I actually still like quite a bit of it.



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