Wednesday, June 9, 2010

16. When Dreams Become

The dream seems meaningless,
and probably it is. Dreams don’t
necessarily exhibit our deepest desires
or reveal thoughts hidden from us.
They are just thinking, and we think
in stories because we make sense
through narrative. No matter
how much we would like to
transcend the need for narrative,
narrative is how we learn
and how we feel, because it replicates
the simple outlines of our lives,
those sets of interconnected narratives.

Inside the dream, where we spend
our nights, people move according to
a narrative we create but cannot foretell.
We are surprised by the directions of the dreams
we create, and when we remember dreams we never
remember their entirety, we are never sure
where they begin. It is as if they begin
in media res, because that is
where we remember them.

In my last dream, a man said we had nothing
to fear, that he would find free food
for us, but he left with a machine gun in his hand,
obscured by strings and pieces of cloth,
as if he had wanted to keep his intentions secret
even from us. We knew or he said he was going
to a particular store we knew, so the dream
remembered carries with it that evidence of
it as it once was, some inviolate movie played
once for a single person but never preserved.

It seems that the man successfully
acquired food for us, though we never ate it,
and though I am not sure that the rest of us
even participated in the robbery. I remember
the incident but cannot tell
if I were there or if I simply created
the scene of the robbery from stories
I had heard on the man’s return.

All I know is that, afterwards, we became
part of the entourage of the family
whose store we had robbed, a store
that had become a giant truck that traveled
the country, and that we lived on the truck.
In this view of the story, the store
was assembled on open ground somewhere
but could be disassembled and moved
at will. Our people were talking to the family
that ran the store, and they were our friends,
even though now I can remember that
when we robbed the store we had blindfolded
the family, rather than wearing masks
on our faces, and we spoke to each other
using our own names, so that now we could not
call each other by our those names, so we
did not use them. We had become anonymous once
we became part of this extended family.

While parked by a building that seemed
situated both in a city and somewhere
in the countryside, we built a fire and talked
to the family. Occasionally, we needed something
from the truck and would enter it, but it had
no doors. Canvas covered a frame that defined
the outlines of the truck and inside the truck
large sheets of cloth divided the world into sections.
We lived deep within thsy truck, in a narrow
section far from the front and the back,
which we needed to do to protect our identities
from the family giving us this berth.

Just before I awoke from this dream,
I left the fire to find a book (and to disappear
into the anonymity those layers of hanging fabric
afforded me). I pushed into the truck, and kept
pushing one wall of fabric then another as I
burrowed into the unlit interior of the truck,
searching for that sliver of the world between
two hanging sheets where we lived. As I lie
in bed typing this, I wonder if the sheets represented
the sheets of a bed, the sheets of this bed,
the bed I was sleeping in when I lived this dream,
but I think that’s too neat and clean an answer,

just as I think it is too neat and clean a way
to end this letter to imagine that I was looking for
a book by you, some large-format hardcover book
that brought all your collaged haiku, your
rubberstamped poems, your careful found
typographic poems into one place, in vibrant
black and white or glossy color, so that
everyone could own some evidence of your skill,
the way your eye works with text, how
it understands how text falls into shapes on the page,
how those shapes are meaningful even in the absence
of text, how you can see ways to take rigid
rubberstamped text and make some swirling maelstrom
of meaning and matter, how you can isolate those
particularly beautiful curves and incisions of type
and create a text that is of words but wordless and
full of the power of words at the same time.

I wish I could say I was looking for that book,
though I’ll never know what I was looking for at all.

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