One of the secretaries is talking about
her dead mother today. How she dreams of her,
and in the dream she asks her to stay awhile
because she knows when she wakes up
her mother will be gone. I’m glad,
she’s letting me know everything’s OK

she says, her voice breaking, her eyes wet.

I dream of my mother sometimes too
I say, I do not tell them I don’t believe
these are voices from heaven. For I have also
dreamt I had pigtails and my father
was raping me, I have seen planets crack
like eggshells and—God forgive me—
heard my mother groaning like a whore.

I know by now that my mind is worse
than hell, a universe full of thistles
and naked children screaming for home.
And I know too that to sustain me
my stars have sung like angels—
I’ve turned sometimes and caught them
moving on the face of the deep.

Every atom, every detail of paradise
has been crafted like my hell, churned
from the fat black cauldron until
there was ground and sky and myself
cast somewhere in between, trying
as I turn and turn in the void
to imagine it has always been this way.

This is a reprint of work originally published in Eclectica.

Michael Meyerhofer’s fourth book, What To Do If You’re Buried Alive, was published by Split Lip Press. He is also the author of a fantasy series and the Poetry Editor of Atticus Review. His work has appeared in Hayden’s Ferry Review, Rattle, Brevity, Tupelo Quarterly, Ploughshares, and many other journals. For more information and an embarrassing childhood photo, visit

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