page contents

POETRY / Parasomnias / Jakob Ryce

madi-doell-405465-unsplash.jpg

Look:

The feather pillow, an impression of her is still here.
This is where she was, where she took small halting breaths in the sinking night

before ...

the tapping of heels through the door

and then ...
nails, spark, spoon.

Her azure skin waning under a lunar gloom.
Just the bare hull of her, spread out like a water deer,
weighing her head down against a familiar cloud,
surrendering to shadow.

This is where I last saw her ...

her face caked like a dust bowl, moist veins across her cheeks,
like Europa

It’s true, I lingered bedside, studied each point of light
in reverie.
The rest was an ink spill, an eclipse between us
that defined her contours:

pelvis bone, shoulder, neck, jaw
the sunken keel of her back

This is where she dreamed in fits and turns,
where her eye-feathers quivered.
A calescence that began in dream and finished in ruin.
Cherry nails excavating, working, clawing.
Thumbnails prodding her sleep.

Things get fuzzy down there in the murk ...

Synaptic pruning.
The heart slows.
The body grows colder.

Then she would suddenly sit upright,
a spectre shivering near the window.
Parasomnias, I think they call it.

But she wasn’t really with me,
she was still down there somewhere,
swimming towards a shore that moved further away the closer she got ...

The people on the bank watched.
They looked like friends she found in a black well,
they shook like insects in a squall,
their feet firmly planted, watching as she drifted up and up and up ...

When really, she was static.

Now
only these strands remain,
count them if you like ...

1. A moment of climax, pushed back by the waves.
2. A sigh left under the sheets.
3. An eyelash.

Look closer ... you’ll see a color remains.
It has stained the bed sheets with just a hint of amber.
It is more smell than color.
It is more then than now.

I missed her final performance, her fiery swan dive.
I was on the other side of a coma,
too busy dreaming of a shade of her.

But she’s still down there somewhere,
tumbling in the placid gloom,
her neck arched up like an ostrich,
her mouth wide open,
catching memories

now falling like rain.


Jakob Ryce is an award-winning writer, teacher and poet who lives in Melbourne, Australia. He writes magical realism, horror, speculative fiction and poetry, and has a particular interest in folklore. Jakob has been published in On the Premises and several non-fiction publications. He is currently working on his debut novel and a chapbook of poetry.