Fever Dream (Elizabeth R. McClellan)

after @notaleptic

dreaming of the limit
where reason transforms
into madness, undone
by the light of its true face

corpselight, st. Elmo’s fire
lit by the souls of the drowned
trapped within, staring with
sockets full of squirming deep

sea things that still perceive.
there is a last moment before
the mind rebels, kicks off
the traces, flees in terror. It

lasts an endless time as you
try to fit the viscous gray body
dappled in rot and barnacles,
towering out of the ocean,

drawing out the tide, claws
shining mother of pearl, deadly,
incongruously delicate, maw
of teeth that can’t close, only

gape, serrated, a smell like
mildew and spoiled flesh,
up and up, too far, too big
and then the keening that

goes on until the world goes
dark, while the townsfolk
run like lemmings across the
wet sand, past the low tide

line. The darkness is your
bedroom. The dampness is
the sheet where your fever broke.
The vision in the mirror is the last.


Elizabeth R. McClellan is a domestic and sexual violence attorney by day and a poet in the margins. Their work has appeared in Rejection Letters, Strange Horizons, Apex Magazine, Illumen Magazine, The Wondrous Real, Utopia Science Fiction, Apparition Lit and many others. Their last poem in Rejection Letters is nominated for the Rhysling Award. They are a disabled gender/queer demisexual poet writing on unceded Quapaw and Chikashsha Yaki land. Follow them on Twitter @popelizbet or on patreon.com/ermcclellan 


image: Peter Gutierrez