Sleep Paralysis

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Contributor: Danielle Shafer

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They whisper my name twice
into my right ear
waking me into terror
two presences at the foot of my bed
watch me, paralyze me,
my neck strains to turn
my throat strains to scream
through the paralysis
but nothing comes.

Released, my heart beats
like the pounding of my footsteps
I’ve stopped looking for them
throughout my house, intruders
of my mind, the house empty
except for my searching.

With each mention to a friend,
explanation to a parent,
the presences arrive more often,
seizing my body, cementing the questions
in my mouth. My heart beats harder
every time and I am almost convinced
that we will explode.


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