Meaning of a Dream
Alone in the house, in my bedroom, turning to go. The door to the closet is shutting, though I hadn’t noticed it open, I cross the room and walk into it. The closet stretches out around the house, goes around the back of the fireplace up here on the second floor, continues on, and someone is walking with her back to me. Hey, I say. What are you doing here? Who are you? She continues as if a ghost who didn’t hear me. I speed up to a trot around another corner. The closet begins to look like the basement of my grandmother’s house. I used to run as a child in a thin alley between the wood paneled walls of the bar my grandfather and father built in one half of the basement and the concrete wall of the foundation, with its wires and water pipes and mousetraps, though it was just a ranch in those days it expanded with the adventurous mind, had strange back alleys like a little town. I cannot catch up, I raise my voice, Hey! Come back, who are you? At the same time I can hear an echo of my voice, but it’s not an echo, it’s an actual voice coming from a man asleep on his bed, sounding to my inner ear like a bleating sheep, even though I can still hear myself loud and clear and strident as I lose ground in the chase, and my wife begins coaxing me awake with some words I cannot quite hear, and then I’m pulled backwards and downwards, as if my being is slipping out of my head and filling up the space in my waking body. I sit up. In the dark I shuffle to my desk and turn on the lamp. I know what this dream means, I just need to write it down, it’s about how the people and memories that inhabit your mind do not answer to you, they come and go in ways you cannot control, and whether it’s my mother’s vanished memory of our entire family history or my own memories or simple deciduous thoughts sprouting decoratively and cycling through their dream seasons I also know that this poem is how I’ll own it, exert some control over it in this part of my life bound to time and sleep, this is how I’ll remember not to take it personally that I’m not the one who owns this house, there’s some other me in another room who just saw this moment of his life walk by without so much as acknowledging him. When I wake up a few hours later I cannot read a word that I wrote, but I can follow the shape of it as it walks away on the page in the morning light and describe that.