Sometimes You Wake from Unnerving Dreams

by Jessica Purdy


Ones where you’ve taken out your own eyeballs and teeth,
mixed them up in a bowl as if they’re soup.

The blue irises like shriveled birthday balloons.
They are detached from you.

No longer set in your face. The face you’ve seen in mirrors your whole life.
Miraculous. You can still see without them. Still chew food.

Sometimes you wake and the face of the land has changed.
Snow fell in the night.

A forest that was brown and green just yesterday is now gray and white.
Flakes melt into the soup of the river that runs to your own house.

Sometimes you wake and it’s still night. You can’t see anything but your thoughts,
the rectangle of light near the ceiling.

Sleep is where you belong. Sleep is where you just were,
but something woke you. You wonder what woke you.

Just yesterday you were thudding over pine-needled ground,
over hemlock roots and dropped cones. The hollow sound of underground space.

You might trip looking up. Asking questions:
What kind of bird builds such a big nest?

Will this really be the year you can stop worry? Did you take a wrong turn
or is this way home equally good?

You need to discern whether you’ve seen that fern before,
that mossy rock with miniature worlds.

Sometimes you wake and the face of the land has changed.
Snow fell in the night.

You need to eat a meal that sustains you, teeth firmly rooted in your jaw.


Jessica Purdy is the author of STARLAND and Sleep in a Strange House, both released by Nixes Mate in 2017 and 2018. Sleep in a Strange House was a finalist for the NH Literary Award for poetry. She is the author of the chapbook Learning the Names (Finishing Line Press 2015). She holds an MFA in Creative Writing from Emerson College. Her poems have appeared or are forthcoming in many journals including The Night Heron Barks, Radar, SoFloPoJo, Harpy Hybrid, Lily Poetry Review, One Art, Poemeleon, and Museum of Americana. She is poetry editor for the anthology, Ten Piscataqua Writers: Follow her on Twitter @JessicaPurdy123 and her website: