One of my most vivid nightmares, captured in a (very) short poem called Persistence Of Vision, is up today in The Rapid Eye, a fledgling literary and arts journal.
Persistence Of Vision
She opens the fish,
finds her daughter’s fingers inside;
every fish the same explosion.
You may already know that (according to the website Web MD) intense dreaming occurs during Rapid Eye Movement (REM) sleep as a result of heightened brain activity, but paralysis occurs simultaneously in the major voluntary muscle groups. REM is a mixture of encephalic (brain) states of excitement and muscular immobility. For this reason, it is sometimes called paradoxical sleep.
You may also already know that the phrase “persistence of vision” is the physical / psychological phenomenon that allows us to see moving pictures when showed a series of stills in quick succession. Our brain hangs on to the previous image long enough to connect it to the next.
Another way of thinking about this is to just say that sometimes, sadly, our most intense imagery just “gets stuck in our head.” This experience is what the poem is all about. Not only the poet’s dream, but the grieving mother’s experience just won’t go away, no matter how long or hard they pray it will.