I have a house in my head.
At night I clamber up to look around.
I found it years ago–reaching into darkness, fumbling along walls
I discovered the opening and hoisted myself up
into a low-ceilinged room, close, cobwebbed, clogged with ancestral mementos,
shoeboxes of furry photographs, unhinged jewelry boxes, dolls with tangled human hair, tattered notebooks full of doodles and dreams and grievances and grocery lists
the stuff you can’t throw away
and somewhere behind the walls lived an old woman quivering like an invisible spider making herself known at the back of my neck. At first she’d blast cold venom to force me down on all fours to scrub, scrub,
but I kept feeling for cracks and eventually, I found the rest
the rickety elevator, countless floors full of cells, each with one door, one window, one bed.
By then the old woman was gone it was all mine now, empty and cold and still,
I worked every night for years oiling floorboards, sealing cracks with spackle grappling with the cold tidal waves of cobweb and clutter until I’d dusted every corner. The tower climbs forever. The rooms are the same, all hollow as a skull.
I was getting bored and lonely
but then I found the garden with walls of broken teeth, like bony pilgrims, trees listing to the side, solid plane of dirt to the horizon
There was work to do so I started to dig, knead soil with my fingers until it’s soft and warm, drizzle, coax seedlings, train tendrils where to go, work that will never be done
but look at it now, the grand house surrounded by lushness, velvet green and neon budding, blue-eyed pools and birds crooning questions to themselves
it’s the stuff you can’t throw away, all yours now, yours to keep, do with as you will, too much I know, but still I feel– at the base of my skull, with calloused fingers–for something bigger, a tug along, an opening, an urge to put down the trowel and start walking, through the gardens and orchards, into the dust, beyond imagination, maybe I’ll find something I’ve never seen before and yes, it’s all a dreamit’sallsymbolic, it’sonlypoetry, but more than that:
It’s really happening in my dreams this really happened
it’s really going to happen.
Do you have any recurring dreams?
This is brilliant! Such images, such evocative diction. Wow.
Yay! Thank you.
I like these especially…hollow as a skull, walls of broken teeth, shrubs like bony pilgrims. You’re so good at evoking a feeling with your way of creating unique images. I still remember the one about the chandelier’s disdain of the spot on the carpet, or something like that. And of course your “could talk a pitbull off a meat wagon”… that should get into the popular lexicon.
“an urge to start walking, through the gardens and orchards, into the dust, beyond imagination,” That’s so good. I have a similar recurring daydream. That I am running on an arid dirt road. It’s perfectly straight and stretches endlessly to the horizon. My gate is long, my pace is easy and the slight wind of moving blows the edge off the desert heat. I am light and effortless, I can glide through the harsh beauty into the distance forever.
I get a recurring dream every year or two with my dad or little sister in it. I start to wake still talking to them, they are right next to me. As the liquid world begins to solidify they slip back away. I look for them and call out. Then instantly, like an ice crystal forming, consciousness coalesces. I emerge into a hard light and know it was a dream, they are long gone. Always then a sharp pain in my chest and acid in my throat.
Dreams are excellent places to visit loved ones. Your running dream is lovely. You should write a poem about it. (Come on, Todd, write a poem.) xoox
On a road less traveled strode
A cantering bantering toad
Muttering a tongue
Known to none
He ran until
When I read Tod I said Toed.
How come your poems are always about toads?
(I really think you might get something from writing about the dream. I mean, it might give you something to do when you’re sitting in the garage. Of course, you don’t have to share it here.)
You said it right.
It’s German, google it!
Oh alright already. Maybe I’ll try. Does it have to be one of those artsy types that’s all impressionistic, incomprehensible and doesn’t even ryhm!? I’m more the dirty limerick type.
You make magic happen with words, woman. xo
Yay! xoox to you!!!
Some call them dreams, Anna, others call them nightmares. I just call them work. I just finished about 5 months of renovation, remodeling, and repairs to a home we bought. It was a dream home. Some of the renovation was a nightmare, but now it’s just a beautiful reality. I liked the imagery you used in your writing. It made the story feel, and made it more real to me as a reader. Nice job. Paul
Seems rather silly to work all day then work all night, doesn’t it? Who said we have to do all this working!? But how lovely that you have your dream house now– I’ve always wanted to be able to build a house from scratch, just to fit me. Is it really as good as your dreams, I wonder?
As close as you’ll ever get !!!
I haven’t remembered a dream in so long. It worries me for some reason. No dreams?!
I used to have a recurring dream when I was young. I sort of wish it would come back and evolve.
The house in your head is fantastic and your telling is mesmerizing. I like the sound of that garden. ; )
They say if you’re in the habit of writing them down, you’re more likely to remember them in the morning. Or if you’re woken. You could set an alarm, I guess. (Crazytalk!)
The other night I dreamed I was on a train, looking out at a landscape of islands, each of which was made entirely of paper. At the end of the train I found myself in a strange underground city, a warren of hallways and tiny rooms without signs, but each with its own specific purpose. The design of this city infuriated me at first, but as I got more and more lost, I started to laugh. I ended up in a massage parlor, or a gym or something, a small red room with bronze bathtubs and steam and towels, looking around and laughing at all the people who lived in this crazy place.
Your writing is intoxicating.
You’re having a lot more fun in your dream. Why am I working? I want to laugh!
love it and have missed you …
not much …. back teaching and it is draining my life away … but at least I get paid and the students are nice
love this story and love the image by Niall O’Leary – I am currently reading an account of Stephen De Staebler’s (sculptor) life and works and he describes the figure as being a house for the soul … ties in nicely thank-you.
I LOVE this image. It’s so perfect, it’s almost like someone read my mind.
Love that about the house for the soul. Makes me look at bodies a different way.
Rich words, both terrifying and lush. Your post makes me think of the sights Alice saw while tumbling down the rabbit hole.
I dream of violent things. Rather awful, actually. Either that, or bus rides going nowhere, crossing streets into strange cities…on rare occasions, a dream will run continuously for two nights! I remember thinking, as I closed my eyes, “what will happen next?”
A very tiring dream! Always looking for something…guess you must be having a birthday soon, right? 😉 My whole family has birthdays in October – wish they were more like you! Have a happy one xo
What fantastic images. The line about being clogged with ancestral memories made me feel right at home in your house.
I have a recurring dream about driving, my little sister is a passenger, we’re coming down the mountain pass I live on, and I miss a corner and as we sail off into the air, knowing we’re going to die, I’m thinking, ‘I was supposed to take care of her!’ Had this dream many years now. My brother-in-law says he thinks my sister shouldn’t ride with me anymore. Even when alone, driving that stretch of road, I have to slow way down and move into the inside lane because I can feel so strongly that sense of leaving the road for air.
This is my photography, my self-portrait ??? Author Christine Mathieu, agence Millennium
Where is my name : Christine Mathieu
Christine, Please forgive me– I found this image on Flickr and sent a message to the person who posted it asking for permission. I did not understand that the image was not theirs. I always try to ask the artist and cite their link and link to their Flickr. Can I use your fabulous image? My blog is personal, non-commercial, and I will cite your name and link to any url you tell me to. Again, please forgive for the confusion. If you do not agree, I will take it off immediately.