In the night, she woke in various states of detachment.

Real was not real; what is real? Reality?

Such a permanent thing, to be thought of as only living

In the day, but why?

Because the night is not conducive to sharing,

We are alone when the moon is high, or so we think.

And reality is a communal delusion so it does not exist,

Except for when the cold light of day

Distorts its borders and makes it palatable.

She awakes in various states and she is sure they are real,

The reality of her midnight more solid to her

Than the prosaic disengagement of her existence,

Though she can never quite recall.


Some nights the sky is black when she wakes,

Shaking and panting and dreading the coming of the fate

That she does not know, but heard whispers

Foretell when she was entangled in the delicate lattice

Of a world not her own. She can never remember

What causes her to jerk with a scream caught in her throat,

Too terrified and broken to reach the air. She is cold

Even in summer, yet suffocated by flames

That tickle her throat and the smoldering coal

That sits heavy in her stomach to remind her

Of the fires she plays with at night

When she goes inevitably to unrememberable places.

She cannot recall even a single image, but she hears sobs

And harbors unseen blisters on her hands from clenching too tight

To something that ought not be touched. She knows

That she held on, that she could never do anything else,

Because her choice in the matter is not one, but

She does not know what she grasped.


Others, she sleeps clear until the sun turns the world

Pinkish grey and she wakes contented, with the smell

Of heat as from an empty oven saturating her to the bone.

She hears laughter, scornful and wicked, but originating

From the crevice in deep in the throat made for the making

Of contented sounds, that eases her into smiling

At the same time that she questions vaguely

How destructive this will be. But she can hardly hold

This thought for a moment before she is assured

The destruction does not reach here. This world is his;

No harm will come to her unless he wills it

And he will not, she knows, though she could never say how.

But she remembers hands stroking her hair and

The word “Yes,” that she hears without a voice

Giving life to it. She does not know that question,

But the answer is “Yes.”


She knows before she lets herself. And when he comes for her

Her real surprise feels feigned, unconvincing even

To herself, and he is hardly fooled.

She thinks she may have always known.

He burns, his hand trailing down her back like

The stream of a shower too warm for comfort.

He smells like ashes; standing so near to him, she can hardly

Breathe, the air around him pure and fiery, scalding her throat

As she pants, her head pulled roughly back

By dagger-like nails tangle in her hair, turning it to ash,

His own breath the puff of an inferno on her neck.

His skin like hot sand, rough and scorching,

Brushing off in layers, casting scalding cinders on her carpet,

The flavor of otherworldly blazes, burning too

Ineffably hot, for eternities too long to be of hers.

His wicked tongue tastes of copper and the thousand apologies

She will never make for the crimes too delicious

To deny taking part of and the answer to the question,

She realizes now, she did not need to be asked to know.

She prays to something other than God or the flames

Of he who devours her, that one day, though she doubts it, perhaps,

She will be sorry.


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