Nightmare

Poem by Matthew Wimberley

Nightmare

The fire station in the valley
still uses an old air-raid siren
whenever someone calls in a fire.
Winter thins through the high-country
and leaves trees frosted,
leafless, crooked letters scrawled over the hills.

Rare nighttime when the Aurora Borealis
can be seen this far south, green wisps
like scrimshaw between earth
and the light of death—
stars forever burned out. Tonight
I read from Fleurs du Mal
by candlelight. A man whose daughter
I loved gave it to me. I flip
through the pages,
a way of yellowing paper
like Aspens in fall.

I go back to nightmares. Cold
is everywhere, blood from a chicken
keeps me warm after the power fails, feathers
plucked and used to scratch
at my teeth. Once I killed a hen:
found her sprawled among pumpkin flowers
left by a fox or coyote, still alive—
stomach torn open and one foot
mangled, twisted like sea coral.
I watched her breast rise and fall
she took so many breaths
a silent agony as if a late afternoon
whirl of wind slapping the screen door.

Through blinds this morning,
I can make out a skein of geese
traveling from Mexico.

Just beyond the yard
crushed snow left in the shape
of craters, grass shoots poking through
discarded bones.

Matthew Wimberley is a Starworks Fellow and MFA candidate at New York University. A finalist for the 2012 Narrative 30 Below Contest, and the 2013 Organic Weapon Arts David Blair Memorial Chapbook Prize, his writing has appeared in Rattle, The Greensboro Review, Puerto Del Sol, The Paris-American and Connotation Press, where his poems were introduced by Dorianne Laux. Wimberley grew up in the Blue Ridge Mountains with his two dogs and spent March and April of 2012 driving across the country. A Localist poet,  he currently resides in Brooklyn where he is completing his first book length manuscript All the Great Territories.

Featured Image photograph by E.B. Bartels, www.ebbartels.com.

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