February 1, 2016

an inventory of temporary deaths

an inventory of temporary deaths


by Joyce Chong

in dreams, I am always
wandering into the basements
of unknown institutions,

descending stairways
             that lead to quiet, wide
                         hallways, concrete-cold
                                         doors shut, misplaced
                           behind corners that
                           hadn’t existed,
                           until now.

I am locked in elevators
bound to sink to the ground
like nails pressed to flesh,
like crescent-stamped skin;
ceiling lights become stepping stones,
where the air is coarse and thick,
and my legs, mutinous; leaden.

in sleep, the sandman
sinks into my bones,
presses against my lungs
and drags the breath out
of me like blood
through a syringe.

I dream he is faceless and tall/
a stone gargoyle set against
my ribs/a child’s laughter and the
sun, dappled and spotted through
the gaps in the treetops/I dream
he is like the first breath
past your lips, fresh
from a false death.



Joyce Chong writes poetry and fiction in Ontario, Canada. Her work is forthcoming in Liminality, Looseleaf Magazine, One Throne, Ghost City Review, and Gravel Magazine. You can find her at joycechong.ca or you can follow her on twitter @JoyceEmilyC.

Image: “Stairs in Winter”, by Maarten Visser from Capelle aan den IJssel, Nederland