razliubit, karelu & sleep paralysis

Three poems by Emma Schaeffer

razliubit: to fall out of love, a bittersweet feeling


it’s not the dream of falling
that is frightening,
but the waking—
when an impossible gravity
slams your body
onto a bed
it never rose from
at all—the mixture
of jolt and relief
to find no visible bruises
only a heart
that cannot finish
racing. To wonder
what might have happened
if you had kept falling,
where you might
have landed, whether
you’d have landed at all.



karelu: the mark left on the skin by wearing something tight


when you left
I could feel the places you’d touched
begin to decompress
but it was slow. you’d cut off

the circulation
and they didn’t know how
to pulse again. you left me

red but at least
not numb. I read the lines
until they faded
gloriously blank

meaning: back to the start.



sleep paralysis


one night, my mind woke before my body. my sweaty sleep-limbs were useless and heavy as the blankets holding them. to a child: like every inch was dressed in a lead dentist's apron. my eyes darted desperately beneath sealed lids, my numb fingers pricked with the need to pry them open. the cry to my mother began before i could move my lips, before sound could rise from my throat, electric-thin and sharp. by the time she arrived, i’d sat up, and it was only another strange story from a sleepless daughter. how were we to know then of the chemicals that weigh sleeping bodies still, pour forth all night to prevent the horror stories of children leaping from windows, nightgowns like tissue wings, falling to the ground? how were we to know one could surface even as they sprinted nerve to nerve, mind tearing ahead toward day?


Emma Schaeffer is a graduate of Vassar College, and current student of the Hunter College School of Education. By day, she teaches special needs students, which is difficult and wonderful. Recent publication credits include the New Haven Review, Barnwood Poetry Magazine, and the Ampersand Review. 

© 2016