In These Insufferable Dreams

Photograph by Jose Padua
In these insufferable dreams I am becalmed
by sweet monsters of joy—unfamiliar faces
that move with jagged motions as in an old
film, color photographs pulled from a wrinkled
envelope while standing beside a highway, or
a blue woman placing a yellow orchid on a red
guitar in a wooden room. What becalms me
is beyond speech, beyond symbol, and no one
recognizes it as joy, no one fathoms them as
monsters but me. These are my half-sleep dreams,
semi-formed subconscious demi-creations I control
every other evening when I fall asleep beneath a rain
of falling sweetbay. Nothing else rises like this,
nothing slides so suddenly with a frantic rushing and
a child’s impatience, yet there isn’t the slightest trace
of apprehension in my steady sleeping fingers.
What is insufferable is to move so calmly in one’s
sleep when one knows that one’s waking will
destroy all this and all that with incivility. This isn’t
to say that these dreams are polite, because in them
I am less so and am more a drunken night
on a collapsing marble floor. In the end I fall,
I forget, I leave tiny objects behind in my sleep
and I can’t reach back to grasp them with my hands.
When I wake the grass in the back is overgrown
with weeds; a deer skull hangs from a nail on the
wall inside the workshop and its floor decays
underneath a new roof. When I am cured it will
be unexpected. When I am better I will be
rearranged, like crumbs fallen from the table. I
bring a cup of water to my lips and drink. Dogs
are barking outside and a woman next door
opens and shuts her gate, rattling her fence. When
my eyes are open I fight against everything that
my waking erases, and only when I raise my
voice do I bring life to these dead spaces.

-Jose Padua

Photograph by Jose Padua

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