I have two poems out at Cabildo Quarterly today! “can you come to bed?” about not wanting to be alone while going through a difficult time, and “The Difficulties of Existing Gracefully”, which is the result of a little doodle and a free write I did.
Another dream is dressing,
preparing for her entrance.
I hope she is good. I have
not paid for a ticket but
I have rights. The curtain
twitches and the lights
dim. I hope the dream is
in her best dress. Something
gold and glittery, hip-hugging,
trailing down to the floor as
the dream sways like she is
about to walk onto the red
carpet. Maybe her hair will
be wavy and flowing, topped
with a tiara. Stilettos lifting
the dream a little, making her
walk taller and stand straighter,
proud and excited to perform.
Sitting in the front row of the
theatre by myself, I am underdressed
in my pyjamas, but I am an
eager audience – stripy blue
and white bottoms and even
though it’s February now, a long-
sleeved top with Rudolph’s
face on it and a gimmicky
pink ball for a nose, which
strangely sticks out not far
from where my stoma used
to be. I am comfortable yet
vulnerable. I urge the dream
not to read my thoughts, not
to think about the day just gone
or the day about to ascend. I ask
her to perform a work of fiction,
to sing a happy, upbeat song
I won’t want to wake up from.
I pray for a play that strays
from my normal viewing –
that strays from dead relatives,
from haunted houses, from
familiar fears, from realism. The
curtains open and I see the silhouette
of the dream walk to the microphone.
I clap, my hands hollow and echoing
in my private purgatory. The
spotlight shines on her, and she begins.
I had a dream you were with me.
we were holding hands
and people were saying that’s not what friends do
but they were wrong.
because an unnamed personal disaster
had befallen me
and I just needed someone who knew that
to be present enough to touch my skin
to hold my hand like it’s a thought that needs soothing
to ward off all others who wouldn’t understand
to be with me.
I had a dream I was at
an indoor market on a Thursday
night with my parents, not our
usual haunt but it was a
special marketplace selling
only old Beano and Dandy annuals.
Likely my parents and I were looking for
different things. I have trouble seeing
past the differences
I was looking for my past
but maybe we were also all
looking for him
dog-eared, yellowing pages with
crumbling spines like tree bark. I awoke
in a world where the inherited annuals I once had
are now long gone – to a charity shop, or
to collectors, or to children who already have or
soon will successfully reached adulthood, I hope.
I had a dream we were going for a walk in the park
because that is what he enjoyed doing.
I don’t know if that is really true.
He might have hated walking.
They wanted me to come on the walk.
Mother, my niece, my nephews.
The kids saw it as a nice trip out.
I was not part of any of their experiences,
caught somewhere between being a
sibling and a stranger.
He mattered too much and not enough.
Here and not.
Known and not.
Mine and not.
I didn’t want to go on the walk,
or be with any of them
so while they got ready
I stood in the kitchen for ages
leaning on the countertop,
eyes glazed over, my blank stares
making the refrigerator feel uncomfortable.
Mother just laughed at me and asked
why I stood there for so long.
I don’t feel like I’ve
beaten anything. I don’t
feel victorious. I feel
tired in a way
that sleeping won’t remedy.
It never ends,
it just subsides.
I had another bad dream
about hospitals and cancer last night.
But at least my dress has flowers on it.
Whoever said nothing bad can
happen while you’re asleep
was wrong. Nightmares can happen.
The past can happen, again and again.
The future can happen – every version of it.
Then when you wake up it can all come true,
or not, or you could live out a version of
reality you had never even thought of.
Better or worse. Suspense without the thrill.
Sleep is your worst fiction. Reality is
even more of a nightmare.
It never ends.