In case anyone was wondering, I haven’t died or finally been committed to an asylum (though I expect both in due time.) Rather, I’ve been completely immersed in a wonderful manuscript project with a lovely client who happens to be an art historian. That has meant end notes, figures, captions, appendices, an index, and Chicago’s 16th Edition – an editor’s dream job!
For years I’ve told told everyone (myself included) that editing uses the same parts of the brain as writing, so when I’m working on an editing project I’m not able to write. I now realize that isn’t true. Although there’s a certain degree of overlap, editing uses a good deal more left-brain function than writing, which relies primarily on right-brain operations.
The upshot of this discovery is that I can no longer use work (editing) as an excuse not to work (writing). It’s surprising how liberating that feels.
I woke this morning from sound sleep
and poetry – no words remained
in mind, only the clear knowledge
I had shaped verse as I went about
the business of the dream.
So today I wrote again
after too many weeks of letting life
and other work take up all
available space and time and energy –
but no more.
This was inspired by a dream I had last week. I woke to my alarm in the middle of the dream, and its disturbed feeling stayed with me until I had time to sit down and write about it. As I recorded the dream, I saw patterns that very nearly reversed my initial perceptions, so that I ended up feeling very positive about it. I guess maybe I’m one of those irritating glass-half-full people.
The Best Medicine
A technician arrives to put in
the IV. Cancer, the doctors say.
Five tubes of thick, red poison
wait in a tray. The rubber strap snaps
around my upper arm; cool fingertips press
the crook of my elbow, my wrist,
the back of my hand. I look away, cold
with fear and anger. The bee sting of entry
barely registers, but slashing pain seconds later draws
unwilling sound from my throat. The tech pulls
the needle, bandages purpling flesh, murmurs
apology, avoids my eyes. She puts
her arms around me and I see
she is crying.
I apologize for my absence; a family health issue in a neighboring state has required a great deal of my time the last couple weeks. I’ve been writing, though not as much as I would have liked, but haven’t caught up enough to post anything. Until now, that is. So in a feeble attempt to atone somewhat for this lack of activity, I hereby offer a few silly bits from my journal.
* * *
(inspired by the prompt “favor”)
The favor of your presence
is required at a dinner to honor
Her Majesty Claire,
Queen of Denial.
Formal attire expected; gifts
are not optional.
* * *
(inspired by the prompt “evidence”)
All evidence to the contrary,
I am not the one
who stole your bagel.
Those are not crumbs on my
lapel; I suffer from an unfortunate
* * *
(inspired by a dream)
Too old to be a blushing bride
(and, let’s face it, a bit
too experienced) she thought
something in cream would be tasteful
without pretension. Then she spied
the pink linen two-piece: skirt just
at the knees, jacket edged with elegant
black scrollwork. Beside it hung
a pink shell of silk the barest
tint more pale.
And the shoes! low leather
pumps in matching pink, embroidered
at the collar with that intricate
black motif. It was perfect, warm
with a touch of worldliness.
She wondered how it had ended
up in her closet.
Last night I dreamed about blogging. I dreamed that I had plenty to say, no difficulty saying it, and time enough to post it.
I dreamed I had some thoughts that were so compelling I had to stop what I was doing and post them.
If only I could recall what they were.
Posted in dreams
Tagged dreams, writing
A child stands in a room on the ground floor of a grand old house. The room is wood-paneled, with high ceilings, a fireplace, and cases full of books built into the walls. It is furnished with wing-backed chairs in reddish-brown leather and small tables with reading lamps. Over the fireplace hangs a large copy of the painting “The Spirit of ’76.”
In the rooms overhead, the child hears heavy footsteps. She looks at the ceiling fearfully; those are the footfalls of her grandfather, who has been transformed into a monster. She is hiding from him here in the study. The room is still except for the movements of the monster and the quiet crackling of the fire.
Somewhere in the room a frog begins to croak, something between the high trill of a spring peeper and the deep boom of a bullfrog. The child is loathe to move for fear of making some noise that might attract the monster, but she is curious about the frog. She listens carefully; the sound seems to be coming from the area near the fireplace. She creeps toward that part of the room with painful caution, pausing frequently to listen for the monster, which can still be heard roaming upstairs.
The croaking sound is clearly coming from the immediate vicinity of the fireplace, not from the bookshelves on either side. But the hearth is wide and clear, offering no place for the frog to hide. The child ventures into the open area before the fireplace, trying to make sense of what her senses are telling her. She stares at the licking flames and glowing coals, feels their heat scorch her face. In a flash of horror she realizes that the croaking sound is coming from within the firebox.
Overwhelmed by the enormity of this paradox, she shifts uneasily, unconsciously. The ancient wood floor creaks loudly. She freezes, eyes and ears on the ceiling. The monster has also stopped. After a long moment it begins moving deliberately in the direction of the staircase. It has heard her.
Posted in dreams
Tagged dreams, fear
A woman notices an enormous spider in the house. It is easily as large as her hand, though it has a body type unusual for such a large spider: huge abdomen, small cephalothorax, and long, delicate legs. Its racquetball-sized abdomen is a ghostly grey, the color of certain dusty-hued pearls. Its legs and cephalothorax are dark, either black or brown.
The woman’s children, who have been taught from infancy to admire and respect spiders, are careful of the creature and not in any way afraid of it. There are other people in the house, however, and she is concerned for the spider’s safety. She decides to find it and remove it to the relative security of outdoors.
She searches carefully through the house, finally spies the spider slipping through a door that has been left ajar. She follows and finds a densely foliated shrub with large leaves. On further investigation, she is amazed to discover that the shrub houses a whole colony of enormous spiders of a different type from the one that led her there.
These spiders are built like tarantulas, with short, thick legs and abdomens in proportion to the rest of their bodies. Unlike tarantulas, however, they are not covered with fine hairs but are smooth with small raised bumps like the exterior of a starfish or a cucumber. Each spider is a single, vivid shade of green, orange, pink, yellow, or red. They remind the woman of huge tropical flowers as they crawl about the shrub. Filled with wonder and delight, she calls her children to come see what she has found.
Posted in dreams
Tagged dreams, spiders
A woman sits in a throne room, on cushions to one side of the throne with the rest of the king’s harem. Like the others, she is wearing beautiful clothing made of costly and exquisite fabrics. Unlike the others, she has concealed on her person a small but deadly weapon. She is a trained assassin, placed in the harem as part of a plot to kill the king. She is the failsafe, the guarantee that the plot will succeed.
She is in place on this day, as on so many days before, wholly unsuspected. A delegation of merchants from a certain city is announced, and she knows that today is the day. The members of the delegation are also assassins; she is to kill the king if their plan does not succeed.
She was raised to think the king a cruel tyrant, but her time in the harem has shown her that he is a just ruler and a wise man. Although her entire life has been dedicated to the fulfillment of this mission, she finds herself questioning the righteousness of her cause. A squabble breaks out among the merchants as they approach the throne. All eyes are drawn to the growing commotion; the moment is at hand. She leaps for the throne, weapon in hand.
“It’s a plot to kill the king!” she cries, assuming a defensive stance between the king and the would-be assassins. Once the guards have neutralized the threat, she turns, drops to one knee, and lays her weapon at the king’s feet. “I know because I was part of it,” she adds with bowed head. She did not expect to survive this day in any case. It is enough to know she has acted with integrity.
Instead of ordering her to be executed, the king asks her to be his personal bodyguard. Amazed and overjoyed, she agrees. She realizes that she has truly found her life’s purpose.
Posted in dreams