Listen to the Shadows
You wake with dream’s odd deformities
crowding your awareness – oversized
hands, clubbed foot, a swollen tongue
that crests the dry roof of your mouth.
In the dark you can’t see if these changes
have truly happened; your hands feel heavy
and throb as if overnight they grew
three sizes. Your toes appear to be
missing from your right leg’s punctuation.
You want to whisper, help me,
but you can’t shape the words.
Perhaps you are like the rabbit
outside the fence, trembling in place,
having just escaped the hound’s
frustrated advances. You blend
with the dark like the rabbit’s hide
blends with the tree’s bark. Stay
very still and perhaps the dreams
won’t find you. Or, maybe, they are
already done with the hunt:
having transformed what they found,
having made you part monster.
If you listen to the shadows
in your room you can hear the dreams
turn from the fence of waking.
If you wait, they will lower their noses
to the ground and sniff out new prey.
Greet Again Your Failures
Create a space at the table,
even though they never really left.
Each one has brought a gift
carved from your heart.
Place these curios at the center,
next to the butter and spices.
You expect they’d be grotesque –
large and softly wet – but
they are small and solid as wood.
Marvel at their craft. Admire
their evident patience. Praise
your failures for what they’ve
wrought from your stubborn
foolish love. Give thanks.
Tear the bread, pass the morsels
chair to chair. Offer the cellar of salt.
Savor the wealth of each grain
as it dissolves on your tongue.
No Choice Left
I want a new song, birds. Sing me
something useful, a thread of music
I may use to stitch my torn self
back together. When you call
I want to respond in high and low
notes, as you do, acknowledging
our need and desire for both.
But I am sullen. There’s been
too much black dawn – a whole year
of slow mourning, creeping darkness
that melts to gray. Not enough sun.
Perhaps I should do as you do,
and practice patience, then wake
at a later hour: keep my eyes fused
shut like a nested egg that waits
to hatch – not stirring for anything
less than the correct season, the right
sunrise, when the air outside seems
answerable and there’s no choice left
but to destroy the shell that contains me.