In the night, she woke in various states of detachment.
Real was not real; what is real? Reality?
Such a permanent thing, to be thought of as only living
In the day, but why?
Because the night is not conducive to sharing,
We are alone when the moon is high, or so we think.
And reality is a communal delusion so it does not exist,
Except for when the cold light of day
Distorts its borders and makes it palatable.
She awakes in various states and she is sure they are real,
The reality of her midnight more solid to her
Than the prosaic disengagement of her existence,
Though she can never quite recall.
Some nights the sky is black when she wakes,
Shaking and panting and dreading the coming of the fate
That she does not know, but heard whispers
Foretell when she was entangled in the delicate lattice
Of a world not her own. She can never remember
What causes her to jerk with a scream caught in her throat,
Too terrified and broken to reach the air. She is cold
Even in summer, yet suffocated by flames
That tickle her throat and the smoldering coal
That sits heavy in her stomach to remind her
Of the fires she plays with at night
When she goes inevitably to unrememberable places.
She cannot recall even a single image, but she hears sobs
And harbors unseen blisters on her hands from clenching too tight
To something that ought not be touched. She knows
That she held on, that she could never do anything else,
Because her choice in the matter is not one, but
She does not know what she grasped.
Others, she sleeps clear until the sun turns the world
Pinkish grey and she wakes contented, with the smell
Of heat as from an empty oven saturating her to the bone.
She hears laughter, scornful and wicked, but originating
From the crevice in deep in the throat made for the making
Of contented sounds, that eases her into smiling
At the same time that she questions vaguely
How destructive this will be. But she can hardly hold
This thought for a moment before she is assured
The destruction does not reach here. This world is his;
No harm will come to her unless he wills it
And he will not, she knows, though she could never say how.
But she remembers hands stroking her hair and
The word “Yes,” that she hears without a voice
Giving life to it. She does not know that question,
But the answer is “Yes.”
She knows before she lets herself. And when he comes for her
Her real surprise feels feigned, unconvincing even
To herself, and he is hardly fooled.
She thinks she may have always known.
He burns, his hand trailing down her back like
The stream of a shower too warm for comfort.
He smells like ashes; standing so near to him, she can hardly
Breathe, the air around him pure and fiery, scalding her throat
As she pants, her head pulled roughly back
By dagger-like nails tangle in her hair, turning it to ash,
His own breath the puff of an inferno on her neck.
His skin like hot sand, rough and scorching,
Brushing off in layers, casting scalding cinders on her carpet,
The flavor of otherworldly blazes, burning too
Ineffably hot, for eternities too long to be of hers.
His wicked tongue tastes of copper and the thousand apologies
She will never make for the crimes too delicious
To deny taking part of and the answer to the question,
She realizes now, she did not need to be asked to know.
She prays to something other than God or the flames
Of he who devours her, that one day, though she doubts it, perhaps,
She will be sorry.