Posts Tagged ‘nightmare’

The Dream Speaks



Some dreams are meant to wake us up.

Like the dream when the man approaches your car

and you roll down your window to ask him what he needs


and he speaks in words you don’t understand.

What? You say to him. What are you trying to tell me?

And he pulls out a chainsaw and thrusts it through the open window


and instead of recoiling, you try harder to hear

what he’s trying to say. What are you saying?

you ask him, still wanting to make sense of the man,


believing he has something important to teach you.

He is here to teach you some people are not safe.

And why is it your survival instinct is so slow to kick in?


At last you thrust the car into reverse

and swerve down the narrow road before launching

into the air and soaring, soaring away from the man,


somehow unsurprised when the car lands in a canopy

of trees. And you are unhurt in the arms of oaks.

When you wake, as you do, each time you try to return to sleep,


there’s the man again, his chainsaw reaching for you,

the evil snarl on his lips. Wake up, says the dream.

Not everyone can be trusted. Why is it so hard


to wake you up? How can the world support you

if you choose to stay with what hurts you,

if you don’t let yourself be launched?



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arrives in my bed

and curls her body

into my body

and rests her head

in my arms and says

she is scared

and always I tell her

you’re safe,

I’m here,

and though

I hate for her

to suffer,

there is this

small warmth


to me

by fear.


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I hear the horses, are there dozens? hundreds?
They are galloping toward my room.
I do not know how it is that they are in my home,
but if the riders find me, they will take me. Or kill me.
I know this.

I am alone. The top bunk of the bed where I am hiding
rattles from the pounding of their hooves.
Play dead, I think, though it is not so much a thought
as reflex. I slow the red race of my breath until it is brown
and dry, until my chest is still as stump,
until I’m a lump instead of a girl.

When the men on the horses arrive, I do not move.
I do not wince nor cry out when one pokes at my sheets
with something blunt and cold.

That’s the deadest girl I ever saw, he says.
I hear the feet of horses as they stomp and rake at the ground,
hear them strain and clench and rear. Then
a whinny, then a whirl, I can feel their breath,
and the horses ride off again.

Is this when I learn that the way to save myself
is to fully shut down? In the years to come,
I will find new ways to play dead. One is to starve.
One is to hide. One is to look so green and thriving
on the outside that no one could ever guess how brittle I am.

But those tactics are for later. For now, the girl in the bed
that is me and not me marvels that she is still alive.
It is a long time before she moves.

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Three Nightlings

mama! she shrieks
I throw back the sheets, leap
run naked through night
but can’t make it into her dream
the place she needs me most


whatever the moon
says, that is what I
say, too


rushing out
to smell the morning
before its gone
there will be other mornings
but only one like this

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