Received red jade hand–gave to R.
Went to fossil beds this morning with R & Sadie.
R irrational today. He gets this way sometimes, takes some small thing I say and explodes it all out of proportion, sentences himself to ridiculous, unreasonable “punishment” consequences. I go silent when he announces these plans/conclusions: what is there to say? It’s like tangling with someone who’s holding a sparking live wire, intent on doing self-damage: better to shut up, stand back, let him decide to drop it.
Dream: With David in San Francisco. He’s navigating the city, driving, cornering blocks while I just take it all in, completely lost but satisfied. We have rented an enormous apartment with wood-panelled walls, a balcony: an oddly-angled living space, narrow but much longer than I thought at first, with high vaulted ceilings. I can’t remember where we have gone to (dinner?) but now David is driving us back to the apartment—we haven’t even shipped our things from back home yet—he pulls around front of a huge brick double-towered building that covers an entire block and after a moment I say, This is it? And it is; I gradually recognize the building.
An impromptu party: the apartment keeps filling with more and more people, complete strangers who engage in chatter, laugh and wander through the rooms. David and I are in the kitchen, trying to figure out what to serve. I suggest microwaving the potatoes so we can mash them, but there’s no microwave, only a small toaster-oven. David asks me to peel then slice the potatoes into eighths so they’ll cook faster. He is somehow preparing food arranged on plates for the guests to pick at.
People are smoking and talking; the party has grown so huge that I don’t think some of these people even know we live here. I hate the smoking, and I feel uncomfortable—it’s obvious that everyone here makes lots of money. A woman asks what kind of work we do. David answers for himself (I can’t remember now what he said) and she turns to me: what do I do? David murmurs, Squanders other people’s fortunes under his breath, but I hear him. I say I am a writer and will be doing some freelance work for the time being, because this fall I’ll be away as guest faculty at Bucknell. The party goes on and on, people walk through the rooms drinking and smoking—I hate that and want to ask them not to, want them finally to just leave—and I’m puzzled by how the apartment is already fully furnished, with myriad knickknacks on the shelves, and wonder how we’ll manage to integrate our own furniture and belongings.
Last night I picked Linda Hull’s Star Ledger from the shelf, thumbed through it and read the poem “Damage” before bed. Her control of the line. The rhyme and assonance like a scaffold through the poem. Hers are some of the books I need to carry with me to Bucknell, to study and learn from.
Frayed cables bear perilously the antiquated lift,
all glass and wrought-iron past each apartment floor
like those devices for raising and lowering
angels of rescue in medieval plays. Last night
the stairwell lamps flickered off and I was borne up
the seven floors in darkness . . .
Another line engages my attention, stands out from the whole of the poem:
. . . we must/ have felt beyond all damage.
Beyond all damage. What a theme. I think of David, how in my dream I explained to Mom & Dad that we had moved to San Francisco to give ourselves as much paradise as we’d remaining time for. How when he died, the platitudes of his being now “in a better place” infuriated me—because I did not know what to believe, because he did not, and died fearful of that unknown. How only after coming to a belief in the energies of souls can I now feel comforted that he is beyond the damage.
Thinking this morning about the term soul mate.
Does the flower recognize the embracing bee?
floating title: Climbing Dim Stairs
dream last night: using Reiki to resuscitate a newborn kitten.
another dream: Sandy driving the car, taking Mom & me somewhere. She accelerates—recklessly—through an intersection and barely passes between two cars. Mom says, You’ll understand why I’m doing this, and reaches over to take the keys from the ignition. I am so furious at S that I get out of the car and start walking back toward town (this is in Houston; we’re along West Gray).
Dream #1: Can’t remember much of this: Father stalking us and we (my siblings and I) are trying to outwit him. We hide in the woods, climb trees; at one point I am climbing up the underside of a metal stair and trying to find some way up onto the roof of a kind of treehouse. There is a bridge with several people on it, twenty or so, and I realize that Father has put mines in the water below us: they start bobbing up in the water, orange-painted torpedo-shaped mines, and I call out for everyone to get off the bridge. Then we are inside an area with scaffolding-like walls and the green canvas tarp on the floor suddenly lifts and gathers—it’s a trap and we’re caught in a kind of bag. Father is there, tightening the bag and feeling the arms and legs of everyone inside, searching for me. When he finds me he starts slicing through the bag with a big knife. Somehow I have a long pair of bright scissors and when he opens the bag to attack me I use the scissors to cut his throat and kill him.
[N: This type of dream would usually cause me to wake moaning in fear. It’s interesting that in the dream I am able to defend myself.]
Dream #2: Back in the green house on Oakland Road (where we moved to the summer Rue died, the summer I was ten). There is a boy, about 14, dark hair, who fascinates me. I feel responsible for him, connected to him in such a strong way, though he seems independent enough and not particularly needy of anything I have to offer. It is I who need to be with him. There are lots of other boys his age that he plays with—Tae Kwan Do, running around, climbing trees—and some of them are staying in the house.
Some kind of open house or party: whole families that I don’t know come into the house through the back door (living room) and talk and socialize. A woman and her two daughters, all dressed in pink, find me in the kitchen—I am so hungry and can’t find anything to eat except a slice of chocolate cake in the refrigerator, and I’ve just broken off a sliver of cold icing and popped it in my mouth—they are asking where is their gift? I’m confused. I realize I am supposed to give them something; it’s part of this whole ‘open house’ tradition. I say I’m not part of this tradition nor this religion and that I’m sorry but I have no gifts for them.
I ask the boy if he wants to see my room, which is a mess and pretty much as it was when I lived there as a teenager: books everywhere, bed unmade. Only a wall separates my room from his, which is important to me. I try to be casual when I ask him so as not to raise anyone’s suspicions (including his?). We are in my room talking when my sister D finds us—she is thin and haggard, dark circles round her eyes, and has been crying. She asks if I will please do her a favor and go to McDonald’s to get three different meals. She forgot to bring them and now people have arrived and there’s nothing to give them. She offers to pay me $20. I say I’ll do it, I’ll pay for it, and she insists on paying me. The boy (what is his name?) says he’ll come with me.
Before we get out of the house, two women approach me asking for my help. The first has several academic forms and is trying to petition for a semester course overload—I don’t work at the university any more and she knows this, but I have helped her in the past when I did work there. She has even written my name on the petition for my signature. I review the courses she wants to take and one of them is an upper-level classics course—I ask does she know much about this course or this instructor, and tell her it carries the workload of three regular courses. I recommend she not take the classics course this semester, then explain that I can’t sign the petition because I no longer work for the university. The second woman has a manual of forms and maintenance sheets for a printing machine she authorized the purchase of two months previously: the machine is not working well and she’s called technicians out to fine-tune it; this is the latest diagnostic report. I read it over and note 8 or 9 areas where the machine is performing below standards, ask about some of these. I recommend that she terminate the contract and have the copier returned to the company, and buy a more efficient one.
As we walk out of the house I explain to my companion that these scenarios weren’t really the kind of thing my job required when I was at the university, but people brought them to me anyway because I was helpful and they kept me from being more efficient at my real work.
We drive in a very odd boxlike car (like an old VW Rabbit but smaller and open). When we’ve gone some distance and are climbing a small hill through a parking lot, he says for me to stop and let him out: he’ll get the meals and meet me back here; I should just circle around and wait for him.
I make a left, planning to go a few blocks and circle back but the car is moving much faster than I want it to—I am pushing hard on the brake but it’s moving too fast to make a left turn. I pass several street intersections but haven’t been able to slow down enough to turn. I try gearing down, and that slows the car somewhat. By this time I am in a market area. I get out to look around. Long sidewalks bordered by shop stalls. People talking. I have a bundle of papers, all sizes, some folded, some thin receipts, that I need to make copies of. The machine I use keeps jamming because of the varying weights of paper and I am trying to hurry and finish so I can get back to where I need to be.
My companion walks up and says he’s taken care of the meals, that at first he made a mistake and just got three, then realized D meant three different—as in distinct—meals, three different kinds. We start walking together back to the car.
[N: I am so attracted to this young man and I don’t know why. It’s as if his safety, his development, are extremely important to me, and I feel like he is someone who needs to be a part of my life. I also get the sense that I will meet him again later. I want him to like me. I want him to be with me. Who is he? I think I have dreamed of him before.]
R left this morning to have the truck serviced; I was up trying to write what I remembered of my dreams. Then I dressed and gathered the mail to take to the post office. Met R walking back on my way. There’s much more wrong with the truck—the brakes are completely gone, for instance—and the repair estimate is around $400.
Mail today from Walter Holland, whom I contacted online last week to ask if he might participate in the Poets’ Quilt. He sent his hand tracing and a couple of poems. In his email he said he’d like to suggest some other poets, but that’s not mentioned in this letter.
To Mom & Dad’s. Picked up S’s starling.
Up late again, past ten, and unable to recall the dream that kept me in bed. Then fragments, then threads I pursue. Waking, I thought of Gail Hudson back in Houston and how I should write to her, tell her we are fine, mention how amazing and helpful it’s been to learn about and use Reiki.
S’s starling has grown significantly. Two days ago we noticed how its coordination had improved dramatically, so that perching on a stick or on our hands, moving from one to another, was easily accomplished. And its grip was stronger. Yesterday it started leaping and flying from one part of the cage to another. And it no longer tilts its head straight up to be fed, but will accept the spoon held level. It pecks at our fingers when hungry. We’re going to Mom & Dad’s on Friday and I think S comes home that weekend, so we’ll leave the bird there when we leave on Saturday. (We’re going to help Steve move out of his house—the closing is 6 pm Friday.)
You have a place?
Yes but it is haunted.
You have a lover?
Yes but he’s in a coma.
Yes I wear this ring and yes it means
what you think, but I also carry in my pocket
the other, the ring that will not fit his finger
swollen now as his heart labors, he will
not wear it again, yes I know this, yes
you may touch me there, yes I will take you
home and yes you may do to me what you like.