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Grade
12

fever dreams

 

(ten)

you exchange your dreams at recess each day

swapping your journal with hers and sharing

leftover orange slices from her lunchbox.

today, she says she missed you

while you were out sick

and you don’t know how to tell her

you dreamt she held your hand on the swings—

you lie and say you don’t remember. it was the fever.

 

(thirteen)

she says, reading a horoscope’s easier than believing in God

you agree. at least the sky is more forgiving.

winter constellations ebb and wink

to the two of you, it’s charming— you, oblivious

to how each star burns with a million furious half-lives.

in the flux of the atmosphere

you spy Venus,

she waves, sends her blessings from above.

 

(sixteen)

eyes flicker open in the middle of the sleepover,

orange peel scraps litter the bedroom

ablaze with the hue of her soft stray hairs.

you still can’t tell if she’s a seraph,

sent in light and absolution

or the thing manifesting in sleep paralysis,

seething from the corners of your eyes—

perhaps both.

 

(born again)

this is what hungover feels like

slurred words, fizzing, incoherent—

realizing you might be *n l*ve

isn’t all it’s chalked up to be.

you think: is this who I am now? do I have to be?

as you dig orange rind remnants from under your nails.

tell you the truth, mom: I don’t know how that got there.

 

(and again)

the notion slipped into you in fever dreams,

your family asserts—

your cells turned over, all mutated

and the illness made you new.

you rise from your sick-bed a new sinner

and your mother says she misses you

her daughter, her only child,

you know you can’t go back.
 

(and again)

you’ve seen her manifest in visions and mirrors

discovered the absurdity in womanhood and

found solace in that sin, as they called it,

loving her all the same.

she hands you an orange slice

lighting candles in the kitchen, says—

any good dreams, angel?

and you tell her about the swings.

State
VA
Zip Code
22192