The Nightmare

Summer has edges that feel so defined. The horizon looks like a chiseled corner fold; a thin gold-green edge balancing against forget-me-not blue. I close my eyes and imagine that we live inside a handmade paper dodecahedron, its faces cutting into the atmosphere, scarring the sky in vertical stripes. I imagine that, if I reach for a cloud, I can trace its limits, isolate the blurriness from the substrate, and pull it clean from the sky like a puffy, 3-D sticker.

I remember being a kindergartner on my way home from school, flipping through my collection of sparkly, textured stickers with Titanic’s Rose and Jack printed on them, gingerly sealing and unsealing them from wax paper to share with the girl sitting across the aisle. Now, I do much of the same, in both smaller and grander ways. I collect beliefs, sources of faith and despair, strategically located wounds, and affix them to the walls of my psyche like glistening, overwrought posters of flowers, blood, and crying models in an adolescent bedroom.

In the pantheon that lives in the dodecahedron of my mind, there is no greater god than the one glued to the ceiling, a woman I glare at nightly while resisting sleep. She looks down at me, many-armed, many-eyed, curly-haired, wearing a crown of thorny red, blue, and yellow blooms. I try to pull her down, tear her into pieces, but I can’t reach high enough to strip her from the surface of my own mind. So we stare in silence at each other, deadlocked, constant, like the moon and Earth, like lion and canary, like heaven and hell, like sickness and health, like sense and absence.