Joan Parker, Fever Dreams


Take me back to the graveyard of my youth.
Let me walk amongst the stones, no longer afraid of what I find there.
Let me walk in your youth, transfer the fear of my childhood,

The father in my bed that you now lie in,
The mother who yelled now yells at you.

Let me take your smell of innocence and replace it with pocket change
That spilled out as I undressed
Let me hide my wrinkled body under the crimson sheets,

Let me look at you instead,
Your youth enough for both of us.

How do you want me?
How can you see me underneath this decomposition?

I promise I was beautiful once but took it for granted, do you believe me?

I want to keep you here and play teenager
I want to sneak around in the shadows
While my mother is at bingo.

I want to take off your clothes and put them on my body.
I want to teach you about men.
Let me do what I want with you.

Let me touch you in a way you cannot take off.

Let me ravish you.

Let me write to you from Rome,
Let me make out with you in the flames of the front seat,
Let me make you genuinely want me,
Then let me take you

To the graveyard of your youth.


I was sliding down a cliff
In Washington State
Kicking up red dust and watching
Chunks of rock fall beneath me
And I tried to understand why this feels
Just like being with you.


Tonight I was restless
So I googled you, but sadly your name is common
And without any social media presence there was no way to find you.
Instead I found a sexologist who lived in your town with the same name,
And a singer from Chicago who after writing thirteen albums, killed herself.
Actually I’m not sure if she killed herself, but it felt like something
I should add.


Last night on the bus home
I took part in a two person book club.
I had my book open in front of me like a bird resting on my lap,
And a man sat next to me with a bird of his own,
We sat there reading in silence,
The only two people on the bus, in the world
That were reading,
And we sat next to each other.
Then at the same time we closed our books,
slipped a piece of ripped paper into the binding.
He checked his phone and I closed my eyes,
My head was hot so I placed it onto the foggy bus window.
I closed my eyes and fell asleep.
I started to hallucinate.
I thought about all the bad things that could have happened at work,
About all the things in my life I had done wrong or had the ability to do wrong.
I thought about the local guard, the one who comes in to talk to us when she should be working,
The one I decided that day I had a crush on.
I thought about all the things we could do together, do to each other.
Then, with my eyes still closed and without moving,
I looked out the window and saw a magnificent deer,
Glowing in all the colours of the rainbow,
And I thought to myself, how special, I am the only one who can see this,
For indeed it was in my head,
A place no one else could go.
The phone rang, sending me back and the man next to me answered it.
He whispered as not to wake me and I opened my eyelids halfway but pretended to stay asleep.
I stayed in this state of half sleep and half awake,
Thinking about how strange it is to read with a stranger and then fall asleep next to him,
As though we were an old couple in bed.
Is it okay just because we are sitting, not laying down?
I feel like I trust him, trust him enough to sleep and have strange dreams.
To hallucinate next to him.
Then I get the feeling we are almost home, I open my eyes and he is reading his book.
I take out mine and read it until my stop,
Where he moves to an empty seat so I can get up,
And the last thing I think of as I get off the bus is how empty the bus is, and that he didn’t move before.
I try to meet his eye as I descend the stairs, but he pretends he doesn’t see me.

Joan Parker is an American writer living in Ireland trying to understand the difference between what happens to her and what she makes happen.

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