nightmares

Zoe Cunniffe

i.

you used to wake in the middle of the night

and sleepwalk the seven blocks to my house, 

carried across the pavement to the square window

that led into my bedroom. i slept with the lights on,

in a patchwork of painted nightmares,

kaleidoscopes whirling around my brain, unaware

that a face could flood all the way to the edge 

of my brain, seeping into every synapse.


you never threw rocks at my window. you could never stand

how the glass chipped with each hit, the way my body sagged

after you woke me. the flick of my eyes to the clock

as you trembled at my feet. so you rubbed the toe of your nikes 

in the parched grass and ached at the fact

that all you could do was snap a photo of my rooftop 

to make the loneliness a little more concrete.


ii.

six years later and your teeth are so white

it gives me migraines. a walking magazine,

all your loose edges tied up. you’ve never visited

the backseat. you used to reach for me from the sidewalk,

hands quivering as they clutched a phantom warmth, but now

your nails are barbed and gleaming, clawing me only in nightmares.

you used to crumble at the seams, but now you bury the shreds

under the surface, another one lost to a twelve-step program 

in being loved.

About the Author

Zoe Cunniffe is a poet and singer-songwriter from Washington, DC. She has previously been published in literary journals such as Meniscus and The Showbear Family Circus, and she can be found on Instagram @there.are.stillbeautifulthings.

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