Waking Dream (in 4 parts) by Janice Sorensen

Janice Sorensen founded Cloud Saddle Writers and is a member of Straw Dog Writers. She is a published poet and art critic, and works as an artist and interior designer. She lives with her partner, Michael, and a fluctuating number of creatures at Magpie Farm & Art, in Buckland, Massachusetts.

Waking Dream (in 4 parts)

1. I awake from adrenal dreams of surface survival and curdled dancing. I awake from a floating cellular drift in which I skirt the dry and congested city, trying to land myself on the slanted horizon. I awake to macro questions and the 13th power, to a ghost dog with thinning ankles that could easily snap, and a red couch with the word “out” carved on it in another language.

2. When I hack back the sheets, I know it too. I wonder when I might unflex without falling. When I might push off from the earth’s green bottom and still have breath enough to reach the surface. I wonder when I might not see the biological overlay of a wrongly drawn map instructing me to go left at the tangle then straight till I hit the dome in which a micro-burst of droplets is now raging.

3. At breakfast, in the bright yoke I do not taste my blue dress so lay my head on the table and become the sleepy queen of all that will not get done. In this mid-morning dream, I binge on seraphim and inspiration. I am not aware that I am your goat and the contents of your satchel but I know I am my not own; I am your avian flu dream that was—there, just one second ago—but which now—like the sunlit smoke has drifted up and away until the flapping of frantic wings disperses it into a swirling disappearing slipstream of disruption.

4. The junk mail in my hand screams don’t touch me! Doorknobs remind me of a wall I used to bang my head against. I touch my unbroken skull and listen to the ringing echo. Afternoon becomes a sneaker and dusk a nail. I trudge to the shed to find twine and wood shavings. Night sets in with a mist, an afterthought of creation, ghost pepper dust drifting down onto mundane soup that I am terrified to taste.

Post script: The soul can only take so much theft before it cries out one last lonely disappointed weary time. We put our eggs in baskets already full with expectation: that the house is warm when we arrive, that the mouse will be grateful, that the thank-you card will get written and not lost, that the emoticon will convey our feelings, that a woman sleeping can continue to sleep, and, that a young man can run or sell a cigarette or speak his mind and not be laid to waste by bullet or kneecap. That the eggs are not rotten. Are we unfair to expect these things to matter? Are we unfair to expect expectation to take some of the load, keep us from thinking the worst? It did for a time, and that was on us. For a long time, it had no volume, no cushion, no soft edge. We could not hear that the words were not whispers until they sounded of warning. It is not only these things; it is the reminder of these things.