Revisionist's Dream (I)
Old as seawater. And the dream as large as a sea.
like that. And longer than that. Wider.
And hear the sound of bleak bells like flat stone
on flat stone. We stand—our
hands are empty
and the floor is steep, the floor is a deep sea
with fish like stones who call like bells. Like
brittle bells. And the song is running water.
And the water is rising.
And the prison we choose
is narrow, and we swear we never dreamed those walls.
So the way the light breaks out from the night
we break away, how we carry our lives
like a sack or a sadness—and we are merely river;
the water is sweet
is shallow is slow but the dream
is dark and smoky, like a woman’s hair let down.
It winds like that.
The Revisionist's Dream (II)
She dreamed and the dream was of language. She dreamt
had yellow wings, had a thousand delicate fingers,
had big tusks, had balls—that their mutable voices rose
from some distance and carried to her on a blue wind. No.
She dreamed of water. She dreamed of a single bright leaf
tangled in a dark stream. She did. But you can’t take
her literally, and the story changes all the time. Take
time she told you about the memory: that she dreamt
the whole world was memory, and that the recollection of leaving
was really a leaving again, was motion itself like a dream, light-fingered
light-footed. That leaving was blue and
red, had wings but had no
dreams of its own. And memory like that—like getting up, rising
a favorite chair, your legs working, your body rising
with no more thought than the dream taking off from sleep. But
some liberties; after all, it’s her dream—she’s dreaming it—and she knows
the dream itself knows nothing. The story changes all the time, yet the dreams
seem true enough—but truth is
a fitful thing, time is quick-fingered
and slick; and she thinks time does have wings and is the color of truth. She
in at least a million truths and in time sweeping them into a heap like leaves.
She believes that
most of all. And she’s certain that new dreams rise
from the gathering, use their wings like fingertips,
like the dead waking and, somewhere between rest and will, taking
up their touch again. But no, it’s foolish to
believe her. Her dreams
are pale language—but there’s still the sky, the white, nomadic
their silhouettes against the blue, their histories, what nobody
expects of heaven. No: it’s different. The dream
is exactly the size of her life. And ordinary. It leaves
the enormous and abstract aside, calls up the hard, black,
streets and the dark smell of tar. Calls up the good white dog, brings back the wild rose
the dogwood like ribbons and flowering in the air. And language like that, taking
advantage of what truth leaves behind.
But it’s hard to put your finger
on it because the story changes all the time—the dream is
But the colors are true: the yellow light rising, not on the blue wind,but as if yellow could know
what it takes to rise. As if yellow had dreams. And language like that, too, always taking
the borrowed shape of
time, the coming and going, a cloudy promise crossing bright water; the leaves
on the other side shimmer in the wind.
But the story changes like the wind and now a red bird rises
at the dreamer’s feet, a great heart, and beats the blue air: the heart dreams
of language flying, it
batters the air like fingers drumming, one word leaving
off, the next swept up on the arc of an innocent wing. And,
the heart takes direction and the dreamer is lost—yes, unimportant—deep in the language and dream.
Revisionist's Dream (III)
that he stole the fire, but that
the body of flame continued there.
And separate, continued—the
from the center of the flame,
what fire is. And the dream,
like that too, and the flickering
it does. No point: to argue
with the gods in their difficult
clothes, no hope in setting traps
what we imagine fire to be.
-from The Revisionist's Dream
We are all outside the center.
The only way in is to burn.