Wednesday, September 30, 2009

The railway platform

His face was distorted with painful efforts to smile. ‘Don’t move’ I said to him ‘I have seen you somewhere.’

He did not speak just let out a lacerated laughter. ‘ Are you dead or alive?’ I asked and looked around in fear. The railway platform was dark and deserted, not even a single lamp was lighted. No one was around. I looked back at the form lying huddled on the rough, stained floor. ‘I am alive, but I died very long ago.’ He said in muffled tones.

The porter arrived with my bag, my red bag with blue logo. I almost grabbed the bag from his hands and tried to get up from the floor where I was sitting on my hunches, talking to the sleeping man. I could not stand up on my legs and I groped in the dark, to look for my feet. The porter shook his head in sadness and walked away. His fire engine red uniform was glowing in the dark. I saw a flash of steel badge on his sleeve. He raised his arm to stop an approaching train. The train stopped.

He turned back to beckon at me. He told me with hand and facial gestures that the train would not stop for long. I must get up and board it as fast as I can. My bag was not there. The man was still lying on the ground, and I looked around for my bag.

‘Have you seen my bag?’ I asked, as I looked around frantically. The platform was pitch dark and the train had begun to move slowly.

The porter in red uniform was running his fingers along the moving body of the train, walking leisurely, while the train chugged along. I watched him count the numbers on his other hand. One, two, three…

He was smiling.

I wanted to run and catch the train but it had left the platform. There were just long, winding lines of shining grey steel, running parallel to each other, with sharp pebbles in between. A few feet away from me, my bag was lying open on an iron bench. I saw huge bundles of paper, peeping out from the half open zip.

‘How did you open it?’ I asked the man who was still lying on the ground, his face buried in the crook of his arm. He refused to answer me and I was feeling angry with him. I wanted to shake him up but my hands and feet were just hanging by my side. The darkness grew.

‘Okay, I want to wake up now. I want to go home.’ I said to the porter in red uniform, who was silently putting all the papers back in the bag.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

I had to get on a barge that was filled with people who had to euthanize their pets. We steamed out into the middle of the ocean, and each of us had to jump overboard and drown our pet. I jumped into the ocean with Shadow, and every time I tried to drown him, his head would pop out of the water, and he'd smile that dog smile of his and sort of laugh as if to tell me, "That was so much fun! Let's do that again!"

Monday, September 28, 2009

It's the future and I have am in some gray industrial zone where I've been recruited, inducted, assigned to a work force for a nuclear plant. My job is to climb a wooden scaffolding and then dive off a platform and descend through a transparent tube filled with steam down through a vat of water. I do this over and over. At some point I am looking at the diving platform apparatus from a distance and start to have a realization of why have I been assigned to this task? Then, these Sovietesque ladies in charge start questioning me about the temperature of the water in the vat. There is a panic that a nuclear fission has occurred. If the water is cold, then its a fusion reaction. The water was tepid and someone is saying this is relatively "good" indication as we are all running and panicking away from the site. We end up in a public space room in a Central Park like area and I realize that a small camera mounted on a pole (as there are all over NYC, of course) is a surveillance camera. Am filled with dread. With a group of strangers in the dark am wading through a ravine or extended buried pipe in the park which is clogged. Sense of continuous and detailed considerations with these people about whom to trust in this situation. Wake up wondering if the Iranians have disclosed about their nuclear explorations as a "cry for help," from a faction within the government.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

This morning I dreamt I went to visit the house of some friends. It was an unusual house in that there was a long low movable wall around its perimeter. At several points in the wall there were gaps to take the place of doors. You could move this wall with a simple push and get the openings to fit to the door of each room in the house. It was like opening the lid of a pepper dispenser. You push the lid around and different size holes become available depending on whether you want a light sprinkling of pepper or a great handful.

My friend’s daughter was in her room. I call him my friend but he’s more my husband’s friend. I have an ambivalent relationship with my husband’s friend, but somehow my feelings about him did not feature in the dream nor my feelings about his daughter, who is a strange person I find in real life, though in the dream she seemed normal.

She had gone to a great deal of trouble to tidy her room and yet I noticed the drawers were bulging and stuff peeped out through the cracks of the wardrobes as if she had simply stuffed things inside willy-nilly. There was a false sense of order here.

My youngest daughter who in the dream was still a toddler joined us. A carefree, cheerful toddler. Then a little ball of fur on legs walked across the room. It looked innocent enough and I asked my friend’s daughter what it was.

‘Stay away from them,’ she said. ‘They’re trouble.’ The ball of fur suddenly let out a spray of the foulest stench imaginable into the room and we all reeled back.

‘That’s what they do,’ my friend’s daughter said. ‘And if they manage to get some of that stink on you, it sticks for ages.’

I swooped up my daughter and tried to escape the monstrous ball of fur, which I felt sure was getting ready to spray us again.

The doors slid around the room and my friend, my husband’s friend arrived, all bluster and swagger. He remonstrated with his daughter for keeping the walls fixed in one place. He had had trouble getting in.

I was aware as if in a flash that there were other dangers lurking here in this oddly designed house and I must be careful.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

It is very early in the morning, in the hour or so before dawn. I hear Moonie meowing and scratching at the door, so I roll out of bed and go downstairs to let him in. The light is dim, yet through the glass door I can see that he is not alone: a handsome sliver-grey wolf stands nose-to-nose with him on the deck by the door. Although he doesn't appear threatened by the wolf's presence - indeed, they seem merely to be checking one another out - the thrill of seeing a wolf at my door is tempered with some concern for Moon. Careful not to make any sudden movements, I go quietly to the door and crack it open just enough to let him slip through. I look at the wolf for a moment, then open the door further, sit on the stoop and extend my hand. The wolf is wild, and I am not afraid. He licks my fingers delicately, then I begin to pet him. Everything in my house and outside looks exactly as it does in waking life, yet as I pet the wolf I begin to wonder if this is all happening in a dream. If so, I want it to continue. I awaken here in the pre-dawn light.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

I had a dream once that I had a Bukowski rug on the floor, and each time I got broke, all I had to do was reach into the mouth and some money would come out of the rug—the Bukowski rug.

—Excerpt from "Charles Bukowski love letters sold, maybe more," by juston Berton, San Francisco Chronicle, Sept 18, 2009

Monday, September 21, 2009

Anne Gorrick and I were riding around in a small, slow-moving, blimp-like airplane, circling Manhattan, looking for a place to land. I was concerned about maneuvering the plane in between buildings, but Anne seemed totally confident and relaxed about it (she was the pilot). As we started to descend, it occurred to me, and so I said to her, “. . .you know, I think one is supposed to have a license to drive an airplane.” And then: “what should we say when the air traffic controllers call?”

Sunday, September 20, 2009

In my dream I am traveling on a plane, which later becomes a train. While the plane is in the air someone takes it into his head to shoot a couple of the passengers. Their bodies lie inert on the floor between the rows of seats. No one seems perturbed but I over hear the plane’s captain. He is angry and wants to land as soon as possible.

The plane becomes a train. It rattles its way through the countryside and I can see the broken rocks of the mountains through which we travel.

There is a group of people on the verge of a green hill. They are dressed up in readiness for a wedding. I have not been invited to this wedding but somehow I mingle with them. It starts to rain, trickles at first then great torrents. A small group of us head for the shelter of a tree whose branches are dome shaped, as if we were standing underneath an umbrella. The rain gets so heavy eventually it soaks through the branches.

I take out my red umbrella and offer to share it with a woman whose hair is beginning to lose its pre-wedding curl. I feel sorry for her. She has gone to some trouble to prepare for this wedding and now she begins to look like a sodden dog. I offer to make room for another man underneath the canopy of the tree but there is scarcely room for the three of us.

I am inside a house now with a friend, someone who has also been invited to the wedding and a couple of her friends. They are preparing a dish to take to the wedding. I offer to help. My friend is enthusiastic about my offer but the other woman in the couple is not. She barely speaks to me as I go about offering ideas on how best to cook the lump of meat they have placed in a shallow baking dish. I take a bottle of milk from the fridge and prepare to pour it into the base of the dish. This is the best way, I say, to stop it from drying out. My friend is impressed. Her friend, the other woman, is not and says as much.

‘I’ll be off then,’ I say and flounce out. The front door slams behind me.

The two women follow. On the nature strip my friend apologises but her friend says nothing.

‘You are the rudest person I have ever met,’ I say to my friend’s friend. ‘I was only trying to help.’

Friday, September 18, 2009

I tried to close my eyes and my eyelids refused to budge. They were heavy and unmoving as if a scrap of steel is fixed over my eyeballs. The apparition was sitting across the table with a knife in one hand and a bunch of drying flowers in another.

There was a wilting, stale looking cake lying on the table, with chocolate icing that appeared to me as if brown wax has been poured over the creamy mound. The apparition smiled. My smile. It waved the knife in the air and said. ‘Let’s cut this cake.’ I saw my silver bracelet on its arm. A tiny sparkle caught the light above. The eyes were mine too. The face took a shape right before my eyes, like a swift, deft stroke of an artist’s sketch. It was me I was looking at. Sitting across me, not smiling, not seeing. Just looking. I could feel the goose pimples on my arms. A chill ran through my spine.

‘I am not you.’ I tried to scream and it came from her mouth. I watched my words flowing out from her lips. ‘I am not you’, like someone mocking me. Imitating my voice and my pitch.

I watched, frozen, as she put the drying flowers over the cake and laughed. A jagged laugh. Not mine. ‘Happy belated birthday! It took you so long that the flowers have dried. See?’ It was not my voice anymore. It sounded hollow and strained and masculine in tenor.

To my horror she began to cut the flowers instead of the cake and the wax begin to crumble around the mound, looking like shavings of wood. A slow number had begun to play from somewhere. A guitar. Emanating a jaunty pain. There were many people standing around me now, watching me and gesticulating in my direction, telling some secrets to each other in whispers.

‘I have to go. Listen, I am going.’ I said to her. This time the words came from my lips. She was not there.

I dreamed of another memorial service. This time for a powerful, wealthy woman who I did not know. Her name was Marlan and there was a lot of food involved. Now I'm wondering if she was Marlin, like a fish, which we all know is Jesus for the secret handshake. Right?

Thursday, September 17, 2009

dreamed a lecture about de la soul, without any real perspective on where or who I was in relation to this. I understand only that a professor (who I wasn't) was speaking on a kind of fifties-future (world's fair style) island podium. music by de la soul that I had never heard before. he described their newest record as the greatest work of art of all time. all their record covers were iterations of what is actually the cover of the recent eponymous record by the band The Adventure, in different pairs of colors. woke up & the music was gone. took a few minutes to remember different music.
Last night there was some dream involving fashion models I believe.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

I was in another house. A large house. With lots of rooms and a huge compound. There was a big hole in the ground near the entrance and a big heap of mud was surrounding that hole. The mound of damp mud looked too heavy to be moved with the small shovel and I was wondering how to get that large hole filled. Next to the mound there was another patch of ground, which was green. Lush green, surrounded with lovely fresh flowers. I was pestering my mother to go back to our old house. The house, which had an arid patch of land around it and was filled with a vast nothingness .She ignores my plea and walks to the kitchen waving a ladle in the air, saying it was getting late to cook dinner. Maybe I can help her. The kitchen was submerged in water. There was water everywhere. Even the utensils were floating in that flood. I am flailing my hands and feet, only to be sucked in deeper by the unrelenting currents that have appeared in the water lodged kitchen. I see a fading image somewhere away from the watery haze before my eyes, but am not able to scream. My breath is growing fainter, re-surfacing in unfamiliar half tones, and I keep thrashing my arms around, to reach the surface. Suddenly, the mounting storm engulfs me, and I fall on the rising surfs, sinking deep inside, but could not find my voice to call out for help. I see that a starless darkness is howling beyond the white crest of the waves, “Wait…!” I call after my mother, but I am caught by the vortex of the whirlwind. The crazy waves crash upon me, ready to break me into pieces. I am gasping for breath as I look across the shores, writhing in my helplessness. I do not see my mother anywhere. Only the tall and undulating shadows of dark waters, looming across the kitchen walls.

I wake up breathing hard, with my head on my numbed arm. My arm feels as heavy as stone, with no sensation, and no life. I let it remain, like a log beside me, waiting for it to come back to life.

Friday, September 11, 2009

I am trying to make a u-turn in my car into oncoming traffic when I notice a group of people marching in parade. Somehow I mange to complete my u-turn behind these people; less a parade I see now, and more like a funeral procession.

I am on foot. I walk behind the slow moving procession. Someone holds a banner aloft to commemorate the priest who has died. The banner holds the photograph of this priest in all his finery, his image akin to those I have seen in a sepulchre atop one of the Eugenien hills in Italy. The photo of the priest presumably was taken while he was alive but in it he looks already dead.

The slow moving people in the procession have left an empty lane to one side through which those not part of the parade can pass at a normal pace. I walk with a group of strangers behind the procession. My unknown to me companions are not involved with the funeral but they seem happy enough to dawdle along behind. I break off from them and take off down the empty space.

‘I’m in a hurry,’ I call back to my unknown companions.

Then I find I am with an old boyfriend. We kiss for a long time. In between kisses he notices that the lower half of my legs are covered in long black hairs, unevenly spaced along both legs. In some places small tufts sprout. Their roots seem half dislodged around a few reddened hair follicles that have become infected. I am ashamed at the sight of them. My boyfriend says nothing. He must leave me now to go off for his therapy session, but he tells me that he does not mind being late.

‘You must not be late,’ I say to him. I offer to drive him in my car. His therapy session begins at 9 am. Just as we are about to leave another friend arrives. Now my boyfriend is my husband. This other friend then tries to talk my husband out of going to his therapy.

The alarm sounds and I wake up.

Friday, September 4, 2009

I am in my mother’s kitchen, the kitchen from my childhood, which, in the manner of dreams, is both different from how it was, and irrevocably the kitchen I knew. Here is the island unit, here the big wooden table. Here’s the rubbish bin.

The bin is over-spilling: the rubbish bag needs changing, and it leaves me with this creeping greasy feeling.

It’s so incredibly noisy in here. My mother speaks but I can’t hear a word she’s saying: it’s as if she’s been muted. I think the radio must be turned to some ungodly volume, so I turn off the radio, but I still can’t still hear my mother. Then I realise it must be the TV making all the noise, so I turn the TV off. I’m angry at my mother for having so much noise in here and expecting me to hear her, or perhaps she’s angry at me for not understanding her.

Then I am in my living room, the living room of the flat in which I live right now, though the family kitchen is still somehow next door. My laptop screen is flashing messages, and some are from my boyfriend, and some are from an editor. And the editor is typing in caps and says ‘ADDRESS!!’ And I think well, okay, she needs it for sending me a copy of her publication, though I didn’t know this was going to be a print thing, but this is a bit rude and unprofessional, and just weird, and why is she messaging me on gchat? And she says ‘HON, ADDRESS!’ and she just keeps messaging, like she’s drunk or ADD. And I get confused between the messages from her and the ones from my boyfriend.

And the kitchen’s still so noisy, and my sister’s trying to tell me something, and I wake confused and irritated, but I know I must have managed to hear something my mother said because I'm left with this lingering memory of her voice.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

My husband and I are working as border guards for people who try to enter via the coast at the topmost end of Australia. It’s hot and dry, yellow scrub everywhere, and in the middle of a dirt patch we stand at a flat table covered with documents.

In time my husband goes off to a different section and leaves me in charge overnight. He rings on the telephone at one point and asks me to arrange a sign that we can hang from a tree. The sign must read:

‘All visitors, please shake hands with the official party as you enter the coastline.

I see a family arrive at one stage. The woman/mother of the group holds back from crossing the border, a thin strip of land between the ocean and the shore. The others race ahead. They want to come here; she does not. They skip across easily while she is not looking and then once alone she has no choice but to follow.

My daughter helps me with the sign. She sticky tapes together two sheets of A4 and pins them to the tree.

When my husband finally returns in the morning he tells me he had trouble sleeping. It was so hot outside. But I, on the other hand, slept like a baby.