They’re Not Lying When They Tell You You’ll Dream of the Dead (II) | Mary Ardery

2 mins read

I find her asleep in bed, still dreaming her dream
that summoned me here. I switch on the small
glowing halo of her make-up mirror, study my face awhile

before climbing onto the dresser and crossing my legs,
one foot tapping the air like I’m keeping time,
which I suppose I am, waiting for her to wake.

When she finally stirs, rubbing her eyes, the clock’s
red numbers bleed 2:00 AM into the moonlit room.
You have a new one, she says, her voice gravelly with sleep.

I know what she means even before she touches a finger
to her throat where you check for a pulse, the place
where a white feather is breaking skin on my neck.

That’s how it works now. She nods, always polite,
but bites her bottom lip and looks down. Beside me,
lipsticks crowd the base of her make-up mirror.

I trace my lips with one so dark it looks like
I’ve eaten something that stained my mouth a deep
and permanent purple. I ask, Do you want to tell me something?

and color rises to her cheeks. It’s a quiet night.
Early autumn, windows open. No sound but the constant
throb of the refrigerator’s hum. I’m wondering

why she keeps dreaming of me if she doesn’t want to talk
and then she blurts, I thought you were one of the ones
who’d make it. How innocent she seems to me then.

How childlike and naïve to think there’s a logic
to any of this. When a breeze blows in cool and strong,
it bends the feathers in my elbows like overgrown grass

on a grave. I know it must be hard to see me this way
just as I know luck to be a relative and slippery thing,
different meanings for the living and the dead,

but still, I want to tell her how lucky she is
to have never watched a friend hit the ground
and still grabbed the needle for herself.