MD Kerr

A nightmare

Cinquain chain

Text of the poem

Nightmares
are always hard
to explain. In this one,
the freezing bone-fear started with
shopping.

Shopping
was dangerous:
we were all terrified,
in the near empty aisles, of each
other.

Other
people might kill
but I might too: all ghosts,
all Pacman, and the shelves all looked
normal.

(Normal,
in the dream, was
sudden gaps: some East-bloc lack
of flour / eggs. I wanted to be
at home.)

At home,
I found spiders
swarming across windows.
I climbed a chair, to clean – looked up –
there’s more.

There’s more:
we were having
my aunt’s funeral, but
not a funeral, we were all
there, not

there, not
knowing what to
do: Mum invented rites
and because of some new programme
I had,

I had
to be in charge.
I was gulping, the service was
on my phone. I had to ask them
to speak.

To speak
so Mum could hear,
I needed my headphones
but knew they might kill me without
the sun.

The sun
was the trick, see:
three days in the sun and
things we’d touched would be safe again
to touch.

To touch
a bridge, a fence,
anything, might kill you.
The sun could make things safe but not
people.

People
were everywhere,
and not there, all vanished
but dangerous… Like I said, a
nightmare.

Thanks to The Writers' Greenhouse for the prompt to write a cinquain chain.

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