the etymology of a nightmare

in my dream you were dying

i didn’t know yet that you are dead

in my dream you rested

i sat by you in an unfamiliar room

in my dreams i watch you die again

and again i experience the worst pain

i have ever experienced which wasn’t my pain

but bearing witness to the pain my mother felt

as she died and i dream again and again

every night again and again her death

in a different way all slow quiet nightmares

in my dream you were dying

and my body rested as the poison drained away

and i wake to google the etymology of nightmare

and stare at the results which say

Middle English (denoting a female evil spirit

thought to lie upon and suffocate sleepers):

from night + Old English mære ‘incubus.’

and i think of the words god and death

and again i experience the worst pain

then try to shut it out and my body rests

and your body rests and my sleep is suffocated

by your absence and i think of my unknown ancestors

and how i speak their conqueror’s language

and how many mothers of my ancestor’s have died

and how i do not speak to my mother’s mother who’s still alive

how i wish i could but she’s too old to communicate

how she believes she’s American and nothing else

in my dream all of my ancestors are dying

if i forget our languages

i have betrayed my languages

from modern to middle to old english

i cannot express how much pain there was in your breath

i can only convey your death through stating the inability to do so

in my dream you die

in my dream you are dying

in my dream you died

in my dream you have died

in my dream you were dying

About Sean William Lynch
Sean Lynch is a writer and editor who lives in South Philly. Lynch's first book of poems, the city of your mind, was published in 2013 by Whirlwind Press. His second chapbook, Broad Street Line, focusing on politics and public transportation, was published by Moonstone Press in 2016. 100 Haiku is his latest release, also published by Moonstone Press in 2018. Lynch's writing has been featured in numerous publications online and in print, including (parenthetical), Poetry Quarterly, and Tincture Journal.

One Response to the etymology of a nightmare

  1. pembroke5 says:

    One of your best.Suffering along with others in some kind of darkness…

    Alexander Marshall

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