Tuesday, March 31, 2009
Monday, March 30, 2009
Thursday, March 26, 2009
Soon, a small crowd gathers, and we are inside the kitchen in a little sitting room behind the counter. I can’t find my coffee. A stranger points to a paper cup sitting on the window ledge. Through the ledge I can see the pine tree in our front yard. I notice then that I still have the cigarettes in my hand, and a new book of matches with several extra flaps, which are glossy-beige and unfold in opposite directions. Wondering if there is an advertisement for a correspondence course inside, I pry open the flaps. The inside cover is blank. I strike a match, but it goes out before I can light the cigarette. I try two more times, but a breeze coming through the window blows out the matches. Finally, I succeed. The cigarette has no flavor whatsoever.
Someone, I don’t know who, mentions the fact that the vineyards in the area are budding out beautifully this spring. Hearing this, I suddenly remember that I have completely forgotten to prune ten acres of vines along the north side of the property. I feel horribly guilty about this. Puffing on my flavorless cigarette, I realize that the only way I can possibly prune ten acres of vines is if I quit writing and prune like a madman for eight or nine hours a day to keep the vineyard from going to ruin. I am torn between what I should do and what I must do. I wake up thinking, “another vineyard dream.”
Tuesday, March 24, 2009
Monday, March 23, 2009
Sunday, March 22, 2009
an Art dealer
of painters older aging
gifted but forgotten
disguised among musty spattered rooms
paying them merely the not too low
this dealer sees the death
of his secret favorite
over a honeymoon
his paintings brought to market, reluctant
some still in jars and in tears
to his core they spoke
knowing this worlds most misunderstood
saved in a vault of these friends
paint from yesterday’s blood
from the previous dream
Saturday, March 21, 2009
22 months after the fact
Here came together my life's multiple basements
One friend wondered where his stuff vanished
There had been the flood
Another protested never allowed a move there
i had to explain two fathers
a step and real whose power over had banished them
Then there was the blood of my murdered friend
dried upon floor thick and crumbled
left till the completed investigation-now over
cleaning with the too small towel
returned liquidity I was watched
spread sunk blacken scumble edged
beneath a sink of too high
and out of reach of cleansing water
Friday, March 20, 2009
Wednesday, March 18, 2009
I'm at home listening to the program on the radio, but somehow simultaneously seeing George doing the program in the radio studio, as if the very act of listening allows me to see everything, which feels perfectly natural to me.
So I'm sitting here listening/seeing, and George begins the first challenge with the following line of verse, which he says is from Shakespeare:
"If your true love you find not..."
He gives out the call-in number (a variation on his waking life number, with a different area code), and waits for the calls to come in.
I know instantly what the correct second line of verse is:
Try, try again"
I grab the phone to call. But things keep going wrong: first the light on the handset goes out, so I can't finish punching in the number and have to start over; now the line suddenly goes dead; now I press the wrong number and have to start over, and on and on. At first I'm feeling anxious and frustrated by all these stymied attempts to get through, but this feeling suddenly gives way to a recognition of the absurdity of it all. I start laughing even as I keep trying to call, then really start cracking up when alternative second lines start popping into mind spontaneously as alternatives to the "correct" one.
The only one I remember now is:
"If your true love you find not..."
"For godssake, just look out the damn window"
Soon I'm laughing so hard I can't even try to punch in the number anymore. I laugh myself awake.
Tuesday, March 17, 2009
Sunday, March 8, 2009
As I start to walk away I see there are some discarded "husks" from the creatures behind their enclosure, so I go over to investigate. Even as I look more closely, I can't tell if they really are natural husks, or costumes made out of papier machê. I start imagining that it's all a hoax, and that the "animals" in the enclosure are really miniature circus people dressed in these round husks, and that they're walking on stilts. But wait - stilts with knee joints? I wake up not knowing.
Saturday, March 7, 2009
The woman conducting proceedings was a dark haired, pretty young thing, with Mediterranean eyes and glossy hair. She spoke from a pulpit set up on the nature strip. She came across as part evangelist, part singer and performer, and part newsreader. She tended to begin her performance with a serious introduction, some news of the world, a type of exhortation to live a good life, and then moved into a comic musical routine that appeared to win the hearts of her audience.
I was sceptical myself. I did not trust her. There was also a serious older man who stood by and occasionally spoke. He was the moderator, the one who kept things on track. The audience sat on the other side of Toorak Road. Someone had stopped all the traffic for these events.
On our second visit to hear the woman speak, my husband and I went for a walk mid proceedings through local side streets. For no apparent reason my husband stopped mid step. He was upset. By the time we arrived back at our car in readiness for a resumption of proceedings, he had become even more distressed and was visibly crying. He took a call on his Blackberry. I only managed to hear the tail end of his conversation.
‘Thanks, Elaine,’ he had said.
‘Who’s she?’ I asked. My husband told me then the story of how he had been having terrible and recurrent nightmares. Nightmares that were set in some place like the United Arab Emirates in which some dignitary, a Sheik or some such person, would cut out the rib cages of young women and leave them to bleed to death. The dreams were horrific and my husband said he could not bear them any longer. He wanted to do something about them, to understand them, and for this reason he had contacted the young woman who was at this moment at her pulpit performing. Elaine was her assistant. My husband considered that the performer was like a psychologist and he had made arrangements to see her that afternoon.
‘Fair enough,’ I said. I opened the car door to go back to the performance, but I was worried about leaving a large flat tray of melted ice cream on the back seat near where my husband was now sitting. I was fearful the ice cream might spill or that my husband might fall into it.
I went to resume my seat on the nature strip with the rest of the audience. My husband would listen to the performance from the car, he said. Then he asked me through the open window,
‘Was I happy?’
‘Yes,’ I said. I was happy enough. I wondered whether he might be wondering about the affair I had had some time ago that was now over and whether this young woman he planned to visit that afternoon would in turn fall in love with him. All young women fall in love with my husband, I thought – his gentleness to strangers, his sharp intelligence and his wit.
My husband sat in the back seat of the car crying. His skin looked tanned and he seemed to have lost weight. His skin almost shone with good health but he looked so unhappy.
‘Your happiness,’ he said to me, ‘is a Baptist type happiness’. I did not understand his words, (I still don’t) but I was struck by the strange way religious references had crept into our otherwise almost religion free lives. My memory of the dream ends here.
Later I am in the office where I usually work at my usual desk. Then I realize that my boss has left for good and so I move to his old desk and take my phone and all its cords and messages with me. To the side of his desk are many brown bags of his projects along with bags of trash. It is hard to tell which is which. I have a good laugh with the woman who is taking my desk when I finally get why she was sitting beside me. We start laughing in relief that we don’t have to work at the same desk that is way too small for two people.
Then at some point there is a girl in a blue sweater who comes running in to report that a student is causing problems by trying to lure snakes onto a blanket on the grass. The girl is hysterical and has a pockmarked face. It occurs to me that we can’t help her.
Thursday, March 5, 2009
Waking from a nightmare, in bed beside you, I explained it to you. We had been detained, held hostage in a ‘haunted’ house. Officers of the Gestapo were there, experimenting on our bodies. They had tortured our friends, carving ritualistic figures into their backs. There were two ghosts patrolling the building. Grey, blurred men with heartless expressions. Soldiers in uniform, killed in some distant conflict. I could hear them speaking to me, could hear their voices behind the walls. We broke out of the window, running through the suburbs at dusk. Soon we emerged into open cornfields, but the grey men were there already, like sentries or sentinels. We needed to leap onto a moving freight train, to evade the ghosts, to escape. The dream ended there, leaving me suspended, somewhere between entrapment and release. Upon waking I told you, ‘I don’t know whether we escaped.’ You turned over and looked at me. ‘We must have done,’ you said. ‘We’re here now, aren’t we?’ I stopped and thought. If we had been caught, perhaps neither of us would have woken up at all.