Night Terrors

Bright Nights City Lights, Jackie Phuong Ta



I woke up to the cooing

Of a warm voice,

That reminded me 

Of my mother

And felt a chilliness 

Of a hand on my 

Feverish forehead. So cold.


I imagined I was twelve, 

Holding my mother’s hand 

Late night at the bus stop 

Under the unlit lamp-pole,

As she said goodbye 

To one of her many boyfriends. 


But this one, 

He was very large, 

With putrid breath

Masked by Tic-Tacs

And a toothless smile. 


He had hungry eyes 

Wanting to feast

On young skin, 

And I had eyes 

Wanting to tear 

Away from his gaze. 


Mother told me she loved me

Before she took me to his Escalade. 

Young girls, Snow Whites like me,

Sell better in the market,

And I wanted to give her a break,

To show I loved her too. 


There is one part I could not forget:

How his hands were so cold

As they traveled all over me,

And how I tuned them out 

Imagining my mother’s warm voice

Telling me she loved me.



About the Author

Anam Lakhani · Xavier University

Anam Lakhani graduated from Xavier University in 2018 as a Biology, Art, and Creative Writing student. “Night Terrors” first appeared in New Voices.

About the Artist

Jackie Phuong Ta · SUNY Plattsburgh

Jackie Ta is a senior BFA Artist in Painting and Graphic Design at SUNY Plattsburgh. She is from Vietnam. “Bright Nights City Lights” first appeared in Gandy Dancer. 

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