Kanashibari / 金縛り

By | 10 June 2013

Literally: bound in metal

There’s a Japanese word for it. English
needs one—the closest we get is sleep paralysis.
It doesn’t do it justice. The crushing weight

of a demon on your chest, immovable fingers
clamping your throat, your mind
as wild as your body is helpless.

Kanashibari. I’m here because of it. Four
in the morning, after the fear. It lets you up
eventually. And when it did, I had to move,

had to get out of the coffin I’d tucked myself into.
Pace the hallway, freed. There’s a dead rat caught
beneath the floorboards of my flat. There’s a man next door

whose body is eating him alive. I walk to the kitchen
because I can. Write these words
because the internet’s down, because for once

I’m unable to tweet about it. There isn’t a word
to express this impulse: something to say
but no one to say it to, self-disgust

at this glib dependence, these tiny fragments
strung out behind me. Poems lost and stories unwritten
while I feed the hungry bird. Pressed down

in suffocation, both fighting and complicit,
so tiny, this hourglass we’re given at birth,
so reckless we are with the sand.

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