the undreaming

by Crystal Sidell

flapping — a stomach-flipping sound to hear when you’re

cruising the interstate at 65 miles per hour


I roll onto the shoulder — the concrete side

though the grassy side would have been better


(help is not a phone call away)


belted into a stationary car that rocks like a ship 

on a choppy sea in tandem with the passing traffic


I feel isolated in the midst of thousands

an invisible traveller stranded in broad daylight


this is an old story, I suppose, that shifts gears when

I open the driver’s side door and my sneakers hit solid ground —


the sweating pavement unrolls into a field of poppies


the wristwatch, three hands boastfully tick-tocking to a rhythm 

different than the clock housed behind my ribs —


bend upward, stretching through the glass face 

reaching skyward until they touch that hallowed burning dot


(I am late, and the world knows this)


a wake of black vultures drops from their light-post guard, each 

sentinel dissevering into a cloud of rustic sphinx moths halfway 


to the verdant down, fast flying forward

beneath their black-&-grey-white humming wings —


an unmarked emerald path, diamond diadem on my unruly

crown, scepter planted in my clammy-hot hand


I weave through torches of scarlet en route to the path, light

on my soles, breathing an iron-seasoned breeze


sirens burst like fireworks in the ether


and I am at an open door that hovers ankle-high 

its bone-braided frame vibrating beneath my fingers


I try to cross the threshold: an ethereal film stalls  

my passage like a bubble that refuses to pop


velour wings flit-flutter madly about my arms

petals blazing-bright as dragons’ tongues lick my calves


rubies mushroom through the roots, gem-soaking 

the flowers and weighting my feet


White Rabbit hops past, vest torn, on his way to pocket

the sun, while Dorothy leans ’round the doorway


straw hair sticking out in every direction, fangs bared

claws extended: reaching… reaching…  to steal my heart


(there’s no place like —)


A native Floridian, Crystal Sidell grew up playing with toads in the rain and indulging in speculative fiction. She holds a master of arts in both English and library & information science, moderates two creative writing groups, and has reviewed books for the Florida Library Youth Program. Her work has appeared/is forthcoming in 34 Orchard, Apparition Lit, diet milk, F&SF, opia, Orion’s Belt, Strange Horizons, Under Her Eye, and others. You can find her on Twitter @sidellwrites

< Back
Next >
Dreams TOC

Blog at

Up ↑

%d bloggers like this: