Close Your Eyes

Print More

week’s piece by Bridget Iverson, a senior at
Mount Mansfield Union High School, is about those early morning moments,
that time between sleep and not-sleep. Iverson first performed this piece at
one of the Young Writers Project monthly poetry slams held at YWP’s offices in
Champlain Mill in Winooski. For more about YWP Slams and more work by some of
Vermont‘s best young writers, go to

your eyes. Close your eyes. Watch those patterns that only you can see
projected just above the screen of eyelids, shapes and streaks in purple,
yellow, white. Watch them play out and watch them fade. This is a dark you
visit every night, the dark that stays with you, clings to you, and shreds
itself into milliseconds every time you blink or think of stars think of stars
think of fires by the side of the fields by the side of the road where the
glass glitters where the glass shatters where the glass reflects.

 You drew patterns on your arms with charcoal that
you crushed with your fingers, still warm. You painted your lips with it,
licked it from your hand, and left streaks of black on the skin of anyone you
touched and even through the flicker of light on smoke you could still see

Sometimes you can stare at nothing much and see
those shapes, see a two-second clip of some memory distorted by recognition
into something you can still understand. Sometimes you try to capture that,
remember it, but it turns into the next thing someone says or the song that’s
playing in your head or the rhythm of your own steps across the floor.
Sometimes you don’t care. Sometimes you tug at your earlobes, or chew your
lips, or hook two fingers round your lower jaw and pull just to see if it comes
off and you end up biting your own hands in self-defense. Sometimes you stare
at yourself in the mirror for minutes, trying to equate your view with those
eyes, those eyes, those eyes that move. Sometimes you lay still and count your
breaths and wonder which one of you is real, the one that’s doing the counting
or the one that’s doing the breathing. Here’s a hint: you lose count but you
don’t die.

When you think about sleep it doesn’t come. You
almost like the hallucinations that arrive with three a.m. You can’t keep your
balance and you don’t know if the floor is real, and if you fall you barely
notice because it doesn’t make a sound. You think you can hear music or someone
calling your name but it’s just the hum of the refrigerator or the water heater
switching on.

Once you helped a friend look for an earring but
you found her whole life instead and when you turned around to give it to her
she was gone. You never read horoscopes in the newspaper but you read the
obituaries sometimes and their predictions are always right. You pretend the
columns of text are trees and the pictures are Technicolor canopies and the
occasional little headlines are birds just lighting there for a moment before
they fly away and turn back into the Dow Jones Industrial Average. The ink smudges
your fingers. Like charcoal.

You wonder sometimes about the patterns blood
makes on bones because you’re used to just skin, or skin that heals. And you’re
not all there. You’re not all there, you’re transparent, you’re fading, you’re
not all here, you don’t remember the last time you were anchored to earth
pressed down to the floor with the force of gravity, something you could feel
on the soles of your feet and the top of your head and the slope of your
shoulders rounding down to hands loosely grasping something real.

This is real. 

Remember this, this is real.
Close your eyes.

Now wake up.

Comments are closed.