“Beauty Sleep” – Prose Poetry by Melissa Moorer

Sleeping Woman - Amrita Sher-Gil, 1933
Sleeping Woman – Amrita Sher-Gil, 1933

Melissa Moorer‘s dreamy & evocative prose poem “Beauty Sleep” is one of several fairy tale-inspired works you can read in our Summer 2015 issue (available online via Amazon and Createspace, or at independent brick-and-mortar stores like Bluestockings and St. Mark’s Bookshop).

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IT’S THE MORNING AFTER; the morning of the day that doesn’t move: forever. Stumbling in, blinking from the singularity of prescription white, I can’t find even noise. According to the news it was a spinning wheel (and who are they?), a tragic accident, but they still find ways to blame you. She should have worn a helmet! Gloves. A seat belt. She shouldn’t have worn a skirt so short. They use words like ‘careless’ and ‘victim’ to describe you and your sleep so contagious the whole city came down with your dreams. But I know better. It was a different kind of needle stick—steel and plastic sharp—intent to make it all better like kisses, but no one can prescribe that (lips and breath are too wet for squares of white paper). Now you can’t hero but just sleep and sleep, fallen into a day held fast with the hot pink of princess promises.

Somehow through the weight of all those dreams, the city grows up around us thick as thorns. Your carceral smile is framed now in metal and concrete grown from the asphalt grid, your flesh store-windowed in a mannequin curse. Thanks to Zeno and his philosophy, to Descartes and his grid that is really a net (his hard science that is nowhere/everywhere except against: bodymind boygirl natureman fairytale) no one can get to you. I try, but all I am is blood and skin and teeth and timespace is metered, running. In this universe — the only one we’ve got, babe — time is only one way and we are in it. Outside in the dead streets umbrellas stall against the rain that threatens in drops and pools above, refusing the fall.

Moving always toward (you), I am pierced into place by the infinite steps between one and two. At the center, at absolute zero (the fogged breath between seconds) where you sleep too hard and fast, time crystals into seconds and minutes. Fused into diamond hard pieces the day breaks and reflects us back on us and back. Expecting a battle or at least a cutting through, I brought nothing but edges, but you’ve had too much of sharpness. You lie locked in and waiting for the touch that isn’t needle stick, but soft. Soft enough to slide by and through. Soft enough to erode sleep into the waking even the dead won’t admit to wanting, a heartbeat red and wet and yearning for the pull of mouths that make no promises but themselves. You said words are just a symptom, a phase transition, but verbs move when nothing else will, smoothing over the edges that cut one from one, step from step, piling up the plurals into woods and streams and even suns. Almost there, love. My heart trips over the red syllable: Snow.

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MMoorerMELISSA MOORER is a research assistant for the fabulous Roxane Gay and an Assistant Editor at The Butter. Her work has been on the short list for a few awards (Glimmer Train’s Very Short Fiction Award (2003) and the storySouth Million Writers (2010)) and published in many luminous zines and journals (LCRW, Hot Metal Bridge, Vestal Review, The Northville Review).

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