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Itís December. I should be dreaming of Christmas and snow. But I canít tell for sure. I think Iím in a parking garage. It might be cold, but I donít usually get cold in my dreams. Itís a parking garage with the usual parking garage concrete, but the floors seem to be held up by steel poles, like the ones in a basement. I think I am in an underground level. The walls are all concrete here. They seem to be damp. There is no daylight; no night sky; only the smarmy light tossed out by the parking garage lights.
When I dream, I am often in parking garages or car sales lots. Iím usually looking for my car, which always seems to be a two-tone í57 Ford. Not so odd I suppose, since that was the car I first learned to drive. It was a 292 cubic inch V-8. The carburetor was in the front of the engine. On the 312, the carburetor was in the back. Or maybe it was the other way around. Memory is often fuzzy, like the stuff of dreams. Something can be in the front in one moment and then suddenly in the back.
Sometimes it seems Iím looking for the old Ford behind the chicken shed my father built in the back yard. It seems that in the dream I suddenly remember leaving it parked there, along with a í56 Chevy and what may be a í66 Mercury. I have a sudden flush of a feeling of wealth as I realize I own these cars, that I always have owned these cars, that they represent a potential of several yearís worth of transportation. It doesnít occur to me in these dreams that these cars also represent many yearís worth of accumulated needed repairs.
The chicken shed was the source of many stories itself It was the source of many dreams. In my earliest memories chickens actually live in the chicken shed, chickens that my mother and I would slaughter one fall day. We had about a hundred of them. That is the number I remember her telling me. In my dreams that day is mixed up with a white-painted oak rail fence around that lot, but I am pretty sure the fence was not built until later. I canít remember what she did with all those chickens after we killed and plucked them.
That chicken shed is gone now in the daylight. It was replaced by my fatherís workshop. But in the twilight of dreams the chicken shed still stands. It has a concrete stoop to the side. There is a dry fish head tacked to the door. Come in. Take a look around. Now the floor is covered with hay, and there is a manger over in the far corner. A small cow is eating out of it. She has her horns and turns her head as we come in, the horn tips sweeping a graceful arc.
In this dream a milking stool stands in the corner of the shed. Only it is called ďthe barnĒ now. I think the fence has been built. The chicken wire would be long gone. My father is washing the cowís udder. When he is finished, he will milk the cow. There will be the sound of the milk hitting first the empty galvanized bucket. Then the tone will change as the milk gets deeper. It is a rhythm, sizzÖsizz in 4/4 time. The cow turns her head as I stand there, the horn tips sweeping by inches from my belly.
It is hard to separate the dreams from the memories. I have said that before. They are both infused with the same foggy hue. You can see things, but you canít really focus on them. You can see the chickens, but you canít count them. Perhaps the brain, unable to sufficiently distinguish between dreams and memories, stores them in similar ways. They both become things like memories, their paths crisscrossing, one connected to the other. In Ann Arbor I am still looking for my car. There are so many parking garages in this community. How will I ever find it?
In this dream I am trying to work. I work in an office, in a medical center of some kind. I know this much, but the details of the work are like trying to count the chickens in the other dream. I canít quite figure out how to do it, or where it is, or even where my desk is. I am obsessed with finding my desk in this dream going down one corridor after another, circling through immense cubicle farms that are all vaguely familiar. They are filled with people I might know, but most of them are sleeping.
In the morning while I am still awake I can sometimes remember the dream. I often ask myself, ďWas that a good dream or was it a bad dream?Ē If I wake up with a feeling of dread, I account it a bad dream. Itís like flying on an airplane: any landing you walk away from is a good landing. So far I have walked away from all the dreams. I wonder sometimes if death is like a dream that does not stop. Some scientist will prove that cannot be true. In six weeks another scientist will prove him wrong.
In this dream I am on the floating platform. It is an endless cube of piping and steel, layers of hard complexity. In the distance I can see the cylinders of storage tanks against the horizon. This place is more like an island than a floating platform. There is no sense of movement. The ocean moves around us here. Overhead a pipe is coated with a 2-inch layer of ice. Another pipe higher in the network is dripping a dark brown thick liquid. It is pooling on the deck near my feet and dripping through to the next layer there.
I had another dream. It is the dream of the motorcycles. It is like the flying dream I had when I was a boy. The motorcycle dream is mostly a dream of movement is many dimensions. Iím not sure which motorcycle I am riding in the dream. It seems to be an archetype. Maybe it is an old Indian from the first ride I ever took on a motorcycle, the moisture from the night air condensing on me as I fly along the blacktop. The headlight beats against the asphalt. The bike dissolves into grease and rust as I pass.
There are other dreams. There is one of my friend Matthew, who wrote for a while on these pages. In the dream Matthew is throwing down a spell and the earth opens up at his feet. He is trying to tell me something I think. His hands are gesturing at the ground. Why is he over there? Why is he across the road? Is that some place I am supposed to go? Is that a place I am to avoid? Perhaps the place in this dream has no meaning at all. Perhaps it is a memory trying to correct itself.
I dreamt I was at Frog Island watching Pharoah Sanders play the saxophone. He was yodeling The Creator Has a Master plan. The sun was high in the sky. It was hot and the air was buggy. There were the smells of food and beer in the dense dream air. There was nowhere to hide. The music closed down suddenly and he let down his sax. The tent flaps turned to wings for a moment and the tent was lifting, leaning to one edge, and rising from the stage. The wind was rising. Yeah yeah yeah yeah yeah yeah yeah.
In the dream of the train passing by at night, the train is closer than I have ever remembered it. The lights on the engines are high in the sky, and at first I think it is a passenger train, but it is too long, and I realize the flashes of light are maybe houses lit up on the other side of the tracks. I can feel the motion of the train passing by, not through the ground, but through the vision, through the dream itself. The train shakes the whole dream. The engine rises from the tracks belching smoke.
I dream every dream at once. All night I am scrambling, crawling from things trying to eat me alive. I am arguing with people whose thought processes I cannot understand. I am moving over grassy hills, but the grass is blue, and the sun is a differentósomething,.. It is something but it is not color. The sky is transparent. There is no air and I cannot breathe. Suddenly I get a feeling. I donít want to breathe. It is terror. It is all terror. I donít want to wake up, because the terror will follow me into the day.
I sometimes dream I am a conscious being. I have become aware. I know things, I understand that some of the things I think I know are lies. Others may be misapprehensions. Very little of what I understand can actually be true. Consciousness is not something I can escape, that I can run from. It envelops me. I canít punch through it. Always there is a fog surrounding my perceptions. It is laughing at me. It is standing on me laughing, and I cannot see it. I rest, ducking down while it passes. I lay there in the snow, waiting.
I dream that every day I write 100 words. I tuck it away in a secret place, and no one ever reads it; not even me. It is a quiet place I have found away from the other dreams and nightmares. Have I used the word before? Probably not. What is a nightmare? It is a horse you ride at night. You ride bare back in the dreams, always bareback. This place where you write the 100 words becomes a kind of drain trap. It is the place under the sink where things collect that cannot go through the plumbing.
Here I dream it is morning, but I cannot wake up. Outside the sun is lighting up the world, burning it down. People are screaming and running in the streets, and I am sleeping. The giant oak down the street is orange and gold with flames that are wind-driven and hungry, reaching out for another taste, for the next tree, house, or human being. I can vaguely hear the shouts and the footfalls outside, but I hear them in the dream as well. In the dream the sounds are more pure. The pain from the flames reaches inside my skull.
I dream of my friend Steve. He is still alive. I had not known that. We are out on the beach where the waves are piling up like solid things. I am distracted by this unknown property of water while Steve is explaining something else. .I cannot hear him. All I can hear are the slabs of solid water piling up one atop the other. Is it ice? The sand is warm beneath my feet. The sun is coming through a hole in the sky. There is sun nowhere else. This is the only place where the sun is shining.
I dream you. The dream of you is unfolding as you read this. Like a flower you are opening and becoming aware. ďBut I am aware,Ē you say. ďI have to be more than your dream.Ē You are, of course aware because that is the way I dreamt you. That is all. When I wake up you will cease to. I will very likely not remember the dream. Yet you will forever have existed at one point in time in one dream, frozen in an instance of something. Something like amber. Someone has found you. They are turning you over.
I dream today has finally come. Until now I have been out of phase with myself, out of time. The colors were not true. The sounds were muffled by the covers and pillows. In a very small space of time I will wake up. For a moment the dream will stay with me. I will have a dim awareness of it. In a moment will come pain and I already know this. I want to stay asleep, want to forget, to escape the pain. I donít want to know yet which of these dreams will follow me into the day.
In one of my recurring dreams I am a big cat running through a woods near a river bank. I am chasing a small deer of some kind. I can feel the ground against the pads on my feet. I can feel my muscles moving, and the damp air against my snout as I run. I am confident in catching the deer. We are dodging the trees and running through patches of sunlight. I barely break my stride as I leap to take the animal on his neck. I can taste his blood even as we fall to the ground.
Well there is the dream of the evergreens, a specific stand of evergreens. I know the place, could go there now. The evergreens would be fifty years older now, so they would be much bigger. Everything would be different. In the dream, however, it is still 1970 and the evergreens are six to eight foot tall. They are not too far off a road, so some of them will be cut down by neighbors poaching Christmas trees. On a hill, they top the highest point in the county there where the ground slopes off into a wide gentle open valley.
In this dream, Christmas is a time when the snowy ground opens and swallows your children. The sod is a frozen wooden layer covering everything. There is a long reach of yard out to a fence where a layer of snow runs up an embankment. A tiny grave is open, but it is quiet. No one is here yet. Snow silently pushes on, almost gently filling the grave, covering the pile of dirt on the ground nearby. The sky is steel, hard as sullen sobs. It will not go away. This is how I dream this. It is anotherís memory.
Perhaps in this dream I have lost my way between the worlds of dreaming and waking. I am driving along a road that carves through vast fields of weeds covered with winter. I am navigating a long slow curve. It is Christmas and behind me the car is dragging what seems to be presents. They are sliding along the highway, hitting bumps and tugging at the ropes that hold them to the bumper of the car. The cabin of the car is filled with damp, sweaty, snowy people dressed in thick coats. It seems that it will be long day.
It is very early in the day here, and I am still thinking about the space between dream and dream. There is a fine wire drawn between the two and considering it makes me afraid, as if I might fall from the wire and be lost forever between these two worlds. I walk this wire between entries here and the only solidity I have is during an entry. During an entry I am safe on solid ground. Then I go back out onto the wire. Space becomes infinite again and the wire shakes fiercely. To fall asleep is to die.
The dream is a real thing separate from me. It is a predator. It thinks. At night we crawl into our caves to hide from it. We light fires at the caveís entrance to ward off the predator, although it seems that these fires serve only to tell the predator where we are. Our children sleep at the back of the cave, and we reassure them as they go to sleep that the dream does not exist, that it will not come find them tonight. We tell these lies even as our own bowels tighten with the fist of knowledge.
Last night I was drawn into an area where I was not supposed to be. It was the small lake that pulled me in. It was filled with one-and-two-meter goldfish, and the water was so clear you could count the fish. There were a couple larger things swimming in the lake too, maybe sharks. The houses along the shore were huge, with verandas and turrets. They had long, green yards sloping down to the lake. I probably should have stopped at the lake and turned around. We were taken into a large building where everyone was wearing white hooded robes.
I dream you come to my door. I have been sleeping, naked, tangled in covers. I walk down a hall to my door with a blanket wrapped around me. It is early in the morning, maybe 3 a.m. I look through a peephole on the heavy door. There you are, in a distorted image, on the other side, standing in the brutal light. You are wearing a wedding dress, complete with veil, and you are crying. You pound on the door again. ďJust a minute,Ē I say. I turn to get some clothes on. When I return you are gone.
I dream a world full of things that cannot be eaten, or maybe I dream of a world full of greedy things that are eating one another, sometimes simultaneously. It is a plane of color and blood is green, blue, and yellow. Blood geysers into the sky and splatters the canvas that is the dream. It coats everything and we drown in viscous paint. It is a world that cannot be breathed or said. It cannot be touched except in the dream. The dream has no weight in our world. It is perceived directly by memory and instantly becomes memory.
TAlie pulled into the parking lot, his rear tires kicking up dust in the clear morning air. He pulled to the curb, scraping his ground effects panel on the concrete there. Turning off the engine, he let the motor diesel twice before removing the keys. He sat there at the steering wheel in a stupor for two full minutes. Then he opened the door and slid out onto the parking lot. He shut the door, paused and shut it again, harder, lifting up on the handle a little. He noticed a bright blue lizard had crawled up onto his boot.
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