Sex Dream by Melissa Reddish

Listen, babe, I’m no prude.  But lately
all my dreams have been PG-13,
no striving towards a climax
that never comes, no rending
of garments, no buttons flying
like miniature spaceships seeking
brave new worlds.  Sex dreams
are like the other: a monster formed
of gathered darkness, his touch,
always, mere inches away.
No matter how hard I pump my legs,
my dream legs, I mean, I can only
crawl like a newborn not fully birthed
into the world. I think it has something
to do with the body, heavy with sleep,
and the fact that we cannot do
what our body refuses.

Last night, I dreamt of Tom,
a boy from ninth grade chemistry,
his plaid shirt stained at the pits,
the zit on his left nostril
that never seemed to heal.
He was the same boy I had
imagined fucking one Tuesday night,
a pillow pressed between my legs,
though I didn’t find him sexy
or even charming.  Really, it just seemed
like he would.  That was all.
In the dream, we were walking
down a road covered in leaves,
the metaphor so terribly obvious,
even in my dream, I felt cheated.
He turned and said, “Sarah,
remember the day Mr. Ross
told us how matter is neither
created nor destroyed?  You can’t
make something out of nothing.
If that’s true, we’ll be walking
this road forever, in one form
or another.  Isn’t that terrifying?”

And then he held my body in his,
his fingers not reaching or groping,
but still, warm, the gap of space
closed by the press of our skin.
I understood, then, he was no longer
that pimple-nosed boy.  He was
somewhere else, grown, living
a life of clipped coupons and
Sunday trips to Whole Foods,
the years between us carved
into a shape we would never
be able to name, transformed
into something wholly strange.
And too, I understood the pull,
my body’s last great heave:
touch me, it says, and only
in the language of dreams
will I listen.


In 2008, Melissa Reddish graduated with an MFA from American University. Her work has appeared in decomP, Prick of the Spindle, and Northwind, among others.