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Watching six people at a dinner table, I sneak up behind them, and blow into their backs. Ghosts bubble out from their chests and faces. One boy gasps in surprise. Iím pleased with my powers.
Later a man and I agree to duel in another part of the house. He wields a saber, and I have a long, black rubber whip. This whip will really hurt him if I use it, so I delay our fight. In the end he leaves with a friend, and I avoid the duel.
Now Iím alone in the house, ready for my private time.
A woman lies prone under water in a creek bed. Over her skin float multicolored leaves. Some of the leaves have blended with her skin, and others have embedded themselves in the whites of her eyes, staining them garnet and lime green.
Even though she canít breathe, sheís not dead. Sheís waiting for the right moment, when each part of her has absorbed all it can: pebbles, leaves, stray trout, bones, gold, mica, quartz, moss, snails, silt, and mud.
Like an artist who knows when the mosaic is complete, the woman will know when to rise from her bed, creaking.
A man wearing a suit, a button-down collar shirt, and street shoes teaches a yoga workshop. Several students are seated around the spacious studio. I wonder why he doesnít at least remove his shoes.
ďSit against the wall for staff pose,Ē he instructs us.
Itís just my luck that he looks to where Iíve positioned myself and says, ď You need to move. Canít you see weíre trying to get something done here?Ē He leans over another student, and adjusts her posture.
I shift myself to a spot farther down the wall, and pretend not to care about his harshness.
Running through wings of flitting crabgrass, lime green in bright light. She lectures about fossil fuels and plastics. I say, ďHumans will die out, and for a time the earth will remain fallow.Ē
Sheís quiet now. Noticing shadows under cliffs, a place to lay my mat.
Feet sink into sand before I begin my practice. Sheís there to teach me yoga. She knows more than I do, But Iím not sure I want to learn from her.
Bossa Nova glides from hidden speakers, muting her words.
I walk over sand dunes, stepping on glass, colored gems. Jobim sings about love.
Someone asked me if a dream I recounted was fiction or non-fiction. I said, ďItís a dream I had last night, so in that way itís non-fiction, but the events didnít occur in waking life, so itís fiction.Ē
In the Tibetan dream yoga tradition, initiates work to maintain consciousness during wakefulness and sleep. They ask themselves throughout the day, ďAm I awake or am I dreaming?Ē Most of us would answer the obvious, ďIím awake.Ē
In dream yoga, all of life is illusory, both waking and sleeping. They answer themselves, ďI am dreaming,Ē while awake. During sleep they remain aware.
An anvil of anger bears down on my chest. In fury I hiss at my husband. ďI must have a divorce. Take me to my lawyer now. Her name is Ann Taylor.Ē A symbol of a power woman, who dresses to conquer.
Saying nothing, he drives me to a Cuban restaurant, and leaves.
A waiter places a white bowl on a linen tablecloth. In the bowl I see a Hass avocado, split in half. Its forest-green outline curves in the shape of a perfect uterus.
As my silver spoon slides into the buttery fruit, my rage softens, and slides away.
To my left is a wall of glass doors, the outside of a school auditorium. Iím standing on a brick sidewalk that slopes down a hill. I follow the sidewalk until it turns into a cleared path in a forest.
On both sides of my descent I see pine trees. I step on orange clay and cracked earth. In the near distance elephants are drinking from a shallow pool of water. A voice narrates, ďIn Georgia there are no elephants. Look out for mountain lions.Ē
Now Iím wary. I climb a sandstone cliff, searching for safety, bracing for an attack.
ďThe young man was hit by a car,Ē her husband tells her. The woman cries and screams in despair. Intending to go to her friend, she gets in her car, backs out of a parking space, and ends up scraping her right bumper all down the left side of her husbandís truck, tearing up the fender. Scraping metal noises.
Her husband calls the doctor. ďMy wife is hormonal, and needs to take medication.Ē
The doctor prescribes Clonopol. The woman knows nothing about the drug, and isnít concerned about her hormones. She only wants to reach the boy and help him.
In a dark auditorium, students perform a pantomime skit from a stage resembling a cave. Gold light shines. Girls wave their arms, inciting the crowd. Iím there to see my sons receive an award.
A girl wins a prize for best babysitter. I climb a spiral stairway with her and her mother to retrieve her trophy. The stairs are wide, like the Guggenheim, and crowded with people.
Descending, the girl and I separate from her mother. The stairway is slippery, and she cries. I hold her, protecting her head.
When we reach ground level she runs, reuniting with her mother.
At her wedding party my sister is sad. She has married a handsome Italian man, very wealthy.
But her ex-husband attends the festivities. He removes an antique mahogany frame from a painting. He tries to give her the frame, but she keeps looking at the remaining canvas painting, which depicts her ex-husband cycling on a speed bike over a mountain road, under a sunny sky.
Several family members from her Italian husbandís side reveal their weight to my sisterís family. One side accuses the other of lying about the numbers, and they begin to tussle and roll around the floor.
Itís Thanksgiving, and the tableís set. My parents are cooking, and everyoneís hanging out before the meal.
My husbandís cousin Allegra has arrived from England with her husband and baby. Their presence makes me uncomfortable. I donít know them well, and I feel shy. Allegra wears glamorous clothes, has traveled the world, and knows many famous people. Iím quite dowdy next to her. My husband admires her.
When I enter the room where Allegra and her family have gathered, I go to her baby boy, and pick him up. His blonde hair feels smooth and silky. With him Iím relaxed.
Iím driving in my Honda with Freeboarder and another boy, who tries to sleep in a reclined seat. Weíre going to stay the weekend at a church.
While stuck in traffic, Freeboarder gets out of the car and goes to a QuickTrip. The sun is setting. I start to go with him, but I remember the kid asleep in my car.
The church is across the street. I try to turn into the parking lot, but I keep falling asleep, and I canít focus on the oncoming cars.
Finally I turn into the crowded parking lot. I have to pee.
Iím shopping in a shadowy market. When I reach my car, I realize I left my purse behind.
Racing back, I find my empty bag hanging near a produce stand. I tell a clerk, ďSomeone stole my wallet. I have to cancel my credit cards.Ē
She enters my phone number in her computer, and cancels them.
I return to my car. While my husband drives us through darkened market streets, I spy my red wallet under a street light, on a sewer grate. ďStop the car!Ē
I run to where I saw it. My moneyís there, but not my license.
The market manager leads me to a rag and bones homeless woman, who has my credit card.
Sheís leathery, and wears a torn, black overcoat. She reluctantly returns my silver card, regarding me with scornful eyes.
Ragbones doesnít return my license. I forget to ask her for it.
It starts to pour on the darkened streets. I climb a scaffold to cross a bridge, holding a rectangular umbrella. Ragbones shouts up at me, ď Hey, can you let me have your umbrella?Ē
I decide to give it to her, even though she stole my wallet, because she needs the shelter.
If you read my dream and tell me what you think it means, maybe youíll decide you now know something intimate about me. You might learn I grapple with issues of age, Iím working to create art, and I frequent dark places.
But when you find something true in my dream, you are really discovering a truth about your own psyche. My dream reflects your soul back to you, like your face in a pond.
The dream belongs to the dreamer, but it also belongs to all of us, bobbing up and down together in the same ocean of time.
When Diggers and Scrapers unearthed Australopithecus afarensis they called her Lucy.
Light, a fitting name since she gave light to all of us, our original mother.
She knew nothing of later events.
Afterward she lay in Mesopotamian mud, rising caked and scarred but regal.
As Nile Nefertiti she melted scented wax down onyx dreadlocks, anointing sun-soaked skin with myrrh oil.
Persephone, Eve, The Blessed Mother, each contain a shard of Lucy.
By midnight Lucy reached outer space, sparkling into thousands of pieces, spinning Lucy in the sky with diamonds.
She never knew she was mother of us all.
Dreadlocks escape like untied shoelaces from his clay head.
His skin wears a blanket of kaolin like an Ayurvedic cure.
He is grotesque in his nudity, this mud man.
Mudman doesnít seem to care if I stare at him. After an interlude, as if he were allowing me some time to look, he slips into my bed.
"Why have you come to me?"
He neglects to answer in words. Instead his thick arms reach for my body, and pull me toward his earth-caked form.
While his terracotta chest presses against my smooth back I fear the chemistry between us.
Zero dagger, a number that exists only if it satisfies certain conditions. I donít understand.
Dragonflies hunt for deerfly as I breaststroke across a spring-fed pond. This I understand.
Butterflies lick nectar from lilacs, but Iíve also seen them land on dog shit. Inconceivable.
I donít believe in songs for America. Iím a love maniac for portals of discovery in universal meeting halls.
Arbitrary political lines puff up rulers whoíd rather just push play and let the music brainwash.
I might be wrong. Donít keep on your mean side. If people like me, Iíll get in their very shell.
Itís nighttime. Iím at my sisterís house, but I decide to leave. My sisterís asleep, her baby girl in her childís bed across the room from her.
I tiptoe downstairs, and enter a landing with three doors leading off of it. The doors have rounded lintels, and are painted Kelly green, the walls a glossy aquamarine. It looks like the home of a hobbit.
I open one of the doors, and a squat wizard woman appears. She wants to harm the baby, so I point my finger at her and zap her.
Zap, zap, zap! We duel, and I win.
In a room lit with fluorescent light I notice a large machine attached to a wall. Black and red tubes resembling dryer vents snake across a grey metal grid.
There are men in the room, knowledgeable engineers. ďWill you explain the machine to me?Ē I ask. They ignore me.
I float to another part of the room. Grey metal grates hangs from all parts of the ceiling. Each place I fly to is covered with the metal grate.
My son floats into the room. Heís curious about the machine. ďIs it a computer?Ē he asks. The men ignore him too.
Jenny is shopping for outfits for her teaching job. We're in the bargain basement of a mall. I'm not keen on shopping because I no longer teach in a high school.
I try to help her find clothes. I see fuzzy lavender sweaters she might like, but I'm not sure. Itís her outfit, not mine. I spot a puffy shrug. She could wear it over a red shirt.
But I buy the shrug for myself. "I could wear it with my red skirt." I recall clothes I own, trying to match up the correct colors. I dread returning to teaching.
I have returned to Arlington Heights, my childhood town. My elementary school and junior high, places I remember fondly, are in disrepair. Teachersí names from thirty years ago still hang above the doors.
"They must be ancient by now. How could they still teach here?"
I meet the principal, a small, dark-haired man. "You were a math teacher when I left.Ē
We sit at a cafeteria table, and then walk down the halls together. He agrees that the schools are neglected.
I pass Mr. Urtleís science room. We called him Urtle the Turtle behind his back. He hated me.
She stood in the foyer, her belly trussed up under a striped knit top. Her hair perched on her head, curls spray painted in place.
ďWe donít believe in evolution,Ē she said.
I gave her a Mona Lisa smile while holding the door, wondering if she was scanning my table for bibles.
Her son thumped downstairs to play videogames with the other boys. A pause.
Our eyes met, and I was afraid. She understood the fear in my eyes. Her look told me, ďI know youíre afraid because Iím crazy. I know you know it, and I know it too.Ē
Iím trying to leave an underground parking garage in my car. Because orange cones block the exit lane, Iím forced to go down the entrance lane. I need to return to a school to pick up my friend, but Iím not sure how to get there since the usual lane is blocked.
I drive up to the toll booth, where a man is working. ďHow do I get back to the building?Ē
"Turn left on highway 92, then right on 192." I shake my head, confused.
How will I pick up my friend? I need to take her to college.
Iím driving Freeboarder to Saturday school. My sleep mask falls over my eyes while Iím driving. I push it back on my head, but it slips down again. I remove it from my head, and throw it in the backseat of the car, but it reappears, and again covers my eyes.
Freeboarder has been doing something bad, like sniffing glue or eating something toxic. Iíve taken his computer and games away from him.
After I drop him off, I sit in the school parking lot under a tree. I have a machine that allows me to email poets to collaborate.
Iím in a womanís house practicing Pilates. She has us doing contorted rolls, and then tells us to lean against the wall, bracing ourselves on one leg. Apparently Iím doing the exercise incorrectly.
Thereís a bug on the wall. Several students go over to remove it, but they canít reach it, so the woman tells me to do it, because Iím taller than the others.
When I go to the wall, I notice the white, rippled texture of the paint. Raising my eyes, I see that the insect is dead, flattened against the surface. How long has it been there?
Iím in the garage, in my husbandís SUV. The car roll backwards, and it hits a support beam in the center of the wall.
The beam buckles. The second floor of the house slides toward the ground, with my husband still lying in his bed. He must be sliding toward the ground too, I think.
Rushing outside, I see that the house has fallen on top of his SUV, which now has rolled outside the garage. The house is resting on the hood, and I wonder if my husband will be angry.
I make plans to jack up the house.
My yoga teacher sings a song for everyone in the class but me. I feel sad and left out.
I leave and go back to the high school where I used to work. Iím in the filing room, looking for mail and papers with my name. Someone has killed herself. It happened while a woman who was supposed to be watching her fell asleep in the bathroom. A man tried to get in to save the victim, but wasnít able to.
I go back to yoga. Wild Yogi is there, yackety-yak.
I confront the teacher. ďYou videotaped everyone but me.Ē
My son Ian and I are in my husbandís SUV. Ianís driving on a slippery, bumpy road that resembles a wooden dance floor. As we approach a sharp curve I say, ďSlow down!Ē He takes the turn too fast. We veer off the road.
We pull onto a field. As Ian tries to backup and turn around, he almost hits an oncoming car driving over the grass.
ďLet me drive.Ē
I get in the back seat. I want to sit near him and drive, but when I see how far away the rearview mirror is, I realize itís not safe.
Fishbait disappeared after eleven months of blogging, his site meter off the charts. Since his blog remained, the unanswered questions bottlenecked: ďDude, where are you?Ē and ďFB, when you coming back?Ē
We loved him for his smooth editorials on fashion, history, Linux, and RSS feeds.
Why did he vanish?
A rumor circulated that FB was an African gray parrot who learned English in the 19th century, hence his knowledge of history. Another report postulated that Fishbait was actually Drew Barrymore, which accounted for his taste in expensive clothing.
When I last visited Fishbait the comments section contained ads for Viagra.
Iím on a journey whose destination is unknown. Walking along a channel of pasture.
An embankment blocks my view to the left. In the distance dark mountains.
Furry cows, bulls, bison, and hogs appear ahead. Afraid to pass them, I stare, but keep trekking.
The animals turn their heads to watch me, grazing as I leave them behind.
Suddenly Iím again traversing the rough grass. A hairy caramel hog with a button-like furry snout sniffs me. Dark-chocolate bison and chestnut cows surround me, curious.
Will they try to eat me?
No, they lie down, wanting to be stroked.
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