Even when I was briefly in Edinburgh
I dreamed of walking the streets of Lisbon
or Porto looking into the faces of older men
and wondering if this one was my father.
the father I had never seen, never known.
Was the one my Jewish mother described
in detail to the social worker who took me
from her shortly after she gave me life.
It is many years later, now, my mother
has a face, discovered in the twisting path
of a double helix, good West Virginia
Jewish stock, Lithuania left far behind.
I may someday visit Lisbon, I hear
it is a lovely city, but the faces will all
be alien to me, and there I will dream
of my day touring the Highlands
of Scotland, the Isle of Skye, and which
of the McDonald’s and McAllister’s might
be kin and which Tartan I can now
rightfully claim is my own.
In your dream
you set out along your path
passing countless monks
each of who offered gassho.
On awakening you asked
to be pointed to the Way.
Why didn’t you ask
the dream monks
and why do you assume
that was the dream
and this is awakening?
A reflection on Case 30 of the Iron Flute Koans
In his dreams he is still marching across endless paved paths on an Air Force Base that might be Texas or might just be hell. In his recollection, in July there is virtually no difference between the two. He stirs each time his Drill Instructor bellows, which is every few minutes, likely seconds in this dream. He is sweating through his uniform, finds it absurd to be wearing high combat boots in the heat and humidity. But he realizes that he has enlisted in the Air Force, a four year hitch in the theater of the absurd. He awakens in a sweat and peers out the window at the building snow on the lawn.
It always seems odd how the dual veils that separate day from night, wakefulness from sleep, seem impenetrable in the moment. Yet they both fade, now pellucid, permeable with the simple passage of time. Now dreams are a reality, such as that purports to be, and the worlds intermix, one ceding it to the other, the other flowing back. It is in that moment It is then you realize both are real, both dream states and you exist only because you imagine it so.
I am swimming strongly, easily
my strokes powerful, gliding
over the waves that seemed to collapse beneath me.
The water is surprisingly warm
not the frigidity I expected, more
like a now tepid tub, but left too long.
I can glance up and see the other side
and it is approaching rapidly.
This will be over too soon, I fear
all of the preparation and doubt
falling away as I step onto the shore.
I no longer see why swimming
this Channel is such an accomplishment,
it seems almost pedestrian, like
making it across the above ground pool
that killed a circle of my parents lawn
when I was a child, but things do always
end up being far easier in my dreams.
In the night
what I am perched
on the edge of sleep
you appear, just
out of the dream shadows,
avoiding the light,
you are featureless.
I call to you and I think
you must be smiling
but your voice is the wind
through the Austrian pines
and the drip from the ever
that slowly abandon
the eaves of the house.
It’s 12 degrees
the night air
my teeth chatter.
Standing in the lot
fetching my cell phone
from the glove box
my breath congeals
around my face
I look up
at the moon
on my forehead.
by a cirrus veil,
but her eyes
her lips soft
in a smile
I tell her
of my love
and she whispers
in the voice
as I curl
next to your picture