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Dream Journal 37: He Woke to a Memory Which Only Happened in Metaphor

As they walked, she spoke and collected items she saw along the trail. A kind of reverse Hansel and Gretel: instead of finding her way back by dropping bread crumbs, she wanted to become lost, and collected markers which would have shown their way home.  Finally, she asked if he would read a draft of something she wrote. He disliked reading friend’s work (it was all too intimate: entering another’s mind), but he said for her he would. He lay down on the soft grass, entranced by her voice. She told a story as she placed the objects she had found (an acorn, a feather, a stone, a dead butterfly, a ribbon) in a shallow hole next to where he lay. After a while, he sat up and glanced at the objects in the hole. He said, it’s like a witch’s ingle. She laughed gently, and began to loosely tie his hands with the ribbon as she finished her story. He watched her dark eyes focus on the task, becoming lost in their intensity. When she was done, she said to him, now you’re supposed to untie yourself, and become free. He said, one would first have to want to be free. With nothing more to say, she walked away leaving him in the woods.

(April 1, 2020)

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as if he must explain

from a work in progress: “process, not a journey” (31)

after dad died

I would wear his shirts

they were too large

for my adolescent body

.

thin wisps of skin 

like spider’s silk

drift in the wind

.

each new mask adhered

to and was shaped by

the one that came before

.

my feet are numb now

as if on fire

.

as the ground slips away

I grasp for space

.

I don’t know how I got here

or where I’m coming from

I’m tired and out of breath

I need to sit down 

.

when asked I don’t know

who I am or where

.

I think of my father

and how he died gasping

for air drowning in phlegm

.

and my collar grows tight

.

(February 24, 2020)

Hansel Grows Old

Bread crumbs were not enough—

insubstantial as memory 

flitting away like sparrows

through the trees. He was lost,

tangled in possibility’s inevitable

collapse; he could not pull past

the brush to a salient interpretation:

where he went, where he was going,

or what language he now spoke.

She had fled years ago,

escaped to the witches who

had forgiven her childhood

sins. She no longer believed

in the lies of her father,

the long walks in the woods

with her brother. She returned

now for some redemption,

only to find him not at home.

(October 25, 2019)

An Early Spring Day in Paris, 1984

The Seine flows

endlessly

around us.

We sit on the tip

of the Ile de la Cite

as if on a boat’s bow,

sailing up the river.

The sun shines,

like a promise,

after days of cold rain.

We drink a decent Bordeaux,

eat fresh pate smeared

across chunks of ubiquitous baguette.

Notre Dame looms

darkly behind

in its medieval bulk.

We are in love, as we

are still forty years later.

Nearby,

above a former morgue,

is a memorial

to the two hundred thousand martyrs

handed over to the Nazis by the Vichy

for deportation to the camps

forty years before we sat happily

oblivious to all but the beauty

of that one Parisian afternoon.

(September 19, 2019)

Memory’s Constraints

“the fog solidifies among us”

            –Tristan Tzara

As a dark spider webs

her partly-poisoned prey,

he shapes another wall

around another day.

Beneath his crippled hands

a mausoleum soars

to contain all his fears

in tightly patterned rows.

Each dawn descends to dusk,

as dusk ascends to day.

How one can thus escape,

he cannot aptly say.

Most days are forgotten,

Lost in this clotted fog.

(September 16, 2019)

The Commute Between Day and Dream

Lost amid the accusations

and misappropriations

in bars and vague hallways,

he wakes into his troubles

unable to disaggregate

his shadows from the dawn.

Behind him, they trail ribbons

of smoke, curling about his feet

like cats hunting rats,

whenever he stops to think.

From frozen puddles, old friends

and loves rise toward him;

their faces blurred beneath ice.

They then sink away, as quickly,

leaving him to shuffle his fingers

uncomfortably across the steering wheel

as he waits for the light to change.

(July 24, 2019)