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by Angie Mazakis

An expansive, manicured lawn in an uncharted suburb covered all in shadow 
like the sun has just set or never existed there will incite a feeling of distance, 
will ferment inside you inside your dream, the trees only pine and paper birch. 
Beauty is symmetry is a lie, we said, eventually. But it’s the lie of the beholder, 
someone answered. Loneliness can destroy the quality of sleep. At times, the 
dream could more accurately be called a distance. Do you make facial 
expressions in your dreams? You can’t tell. A mysterious sleeping sickness is 
causing hundreds of people in a small town near a former Soviet Union uranium 
mine to sleep for days and wake up with significant memory loss. The doctors 
who have been flown in do not know why. They ruled out everything one by one 
while we were crossing destinations off a dream map. We’ve agreed not to 
appear in each other’s dreams. Inflammation, problems with learning and 
memory are some of the illnesses caused by loneliness. You remember that 
earlier in the dream, three dreams into the night’s long sequence of dreams, you 
made someone cry, and you ran after them to make it right and chased them into 
a crowd and lost them for the rest of the dream, which in the dream was the rest 
of your life. Loneliness is as deadly as lack of exercise, as some terminal 
illnesses. Do not let the open landscape of your dreams induce the terror of 
possibility, the anticipation of openness unfolding into emptiness; the wide 
corridors of a hospital are part of a therapeutic design to dissuade a fight-or-flight 
response. Floor-to-ceiling windows and skylights help encourage adaption to 
biological rhythms to accelerate healing. Walk into the open space and picture a 
point beyond it that opens it further, a point beyond that, and so on until it opens 
all the way and you find yourself on the other side, awake. You imagine every 
sleeping person in that Soviet town trying to pinch themselves awake in their 
dreams. You’ve heard of people trying to pinch themselves awake, but what 
good would your dreamed hands be, validating your own momentary, muted, 
dreamed skin?

Angie Mazakis's poems have appeared in The New Republic, Boston Review, Narrative Magazine, Best New Poets, New Ohio Review, Smartish Pace, Drunken Boat, Cimarron Review, and other journals.

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