From the mind of Megan Arkenberg

June 15, 2012

Between a Sleep and a Sleep

Posted by Megan Arkenberg with 3 comments
Youth Finalist in OddContest 2009. Previously unpublished.

* * *

You open your eyes.
The room is dark, dark like rat eyes, dark like a spider’s body. The dark is warm and heavy. The heat is like a second skin wrapped around you; the weight is the crushing vacuum left by eight hours of dreamless sleep.
In a moment, you will wake up.
Until then, you see.
You see a room; maybe it is yours. Maybe it is your room as it looked a year ago, or as it will look in another decade. Maybe it is your room as it was before it had walls or floor or ceiling. Maybe it is all of these at once, pieced and layered like a patchwork quilt.
You see the room, and it is alive.
There are spiders in the walls, spinning little crystal webs from the bones of your house. There are rats and moles and snakes beneath the floor. There are birds in the ceiling, from the days before your room had walls; there are fish in the air, from the days when your room sat at the bottom of the ocean.
And there are things.
Your waking mind would have no words for them; your sleeping mind has too many. They are tiny glow-worm things, coiling together in mats of writhing indigo and gray. They are solid dog-things with sharp teeth and long tails and hard boney limbs. They are massive, lumbering whale-things, as big as a world, so big you can’t see their edges; they engulf you. Your room shakes with their heartbeats.
In a moment, you will wake up.
Your heart will shake in your throat. Your eyelids will flutter franticly, washing the last traces of vision from your eyes. Your room will be dead again, empty and bright and cold.
From this moment, you will be afraid.
The fear will hide itself well. You will only find it in the little things; the way you shy from spider-webs: the way you hate the sound of your heartbeat. For the first time in years, you will dream.
You won’t mind the nightmares.
It’s waking up that will terrify you.


  1. I love this poem! It's so beautiful and peaceful. It makes me feel like I'm right there with the speaker, drifting off to sleep.

  2. This is such an interesting topic to explore! It's amazing how much we can learn from the moments in between our sleep.

  3. It's so beautiful and peaceful. It makes me feel like I'm right there with the speaker.