4 February 2008 | Vol. 7, No. 4

The Nyctophobe

An illusion, but not. My cataplexy, and else.

Your obvious bone gone home to itself.

And I am left alone with the thousand oblivions

That float the jasperine seas of night.

It's a furnace of the first place, fever of mine.

The mattress can't be trusted. I suture shut my eyelids.

I align my terrors to their predetermined brinks.

But the bed that is my boat, slopes lee side,

Then sinks. I breathe through glued-on gills,

And krill swarm into my lungs. It's an unconscious

Christ who sleepwalks on water. I'm an atom

Not in her element. A delible, washed-away

Splotch on God's pavement. I rave a gape-

Jawed lament to a pagan's moon. Oh firmament.

Oh metaphor. Oh Father. Our lifetimes

Are too soon over. And sleep is for ghosts

And lovers. I'm alive, but only in error,

It seems. I dream but to distract me from

These things. But the black room's mood,

It haunts me like a revenant.

The disrevelry of unraveling never ends.

The vague and vagrant longings of a whipworm

Who is hostage to her host. In the dark, I miss you

Most. Hell is like a bed that's like a boat.

About the author:

Jill Alexander Essbaum's newest collection, Harlot, is available from No Tell Books.

For further reading:

See the complete list of work by Jill Alexander Essbaum at 42opus. Browse the contents of 42opus Vol. 7, No. 4, where "The Nyctophobe" ran on February 4, 2008. List other work with these same labels: poetry.

42opus is an online magazine of the literary arts.

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