"Tight sleep" by Meltem Bijil


Bedtime is a ritual. I am a sacrifice.

I’ll spend hours at night reconciling

pieces of myself to my body – the dust

to my skin, the blood to my bone,

the breath to my ancestors. The spirits

do nothing to stop the terror

when I close my eyes, too many

shared memories, too many ghosts

wishing not my death but to live in me,

to live. It’s not an explosion, it’s hands

in the mouth, in the throat,

searching for corners of me

unoccupied. They fill me, a flood

like swallowing the bedsheets,

the air inside me can’t escape; caught

beneath the weight of history

and the linen closet, it changes

weight, a settling poison,

the sharp arrow of a clenched heart,

more in common with ash than angels.

I would give anything to wake up

not tangled, not wet and wrapped

in clinging expectations.

I would give anything

to wake up alone.


Meltem Bijil (she/her) is a Dutch-Turkish university student. She likes swimming and skateboards, and spends more time reading than talking to other people. Her work has previously appeared in Celestite Poetry. You can find her on Twitter @fromtheaxe.

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