The Fortune Telling Book of Dreams

A dream containing dogwood blossoms means
you are questioning your religion. A dream

in which you drive a Volkswagen Jetta
up a river, as though the river were a road,

indicates dissatisfaction with daily routines,
but if it’s raining and the drops don’t splash

 in the water, you could simply desire a gift
from your lover. Marigolds growing

 backwards, from blossom to seed,
is a common dream that mirrors an inner need

for a lost childhood pleasure, such as eating
banana popsicles or reading in magnolia branches,

but dreaming of either of these is a warning
that a time of loneliness is approaching.

Trains in a dream mean someone is angry.
Ships or any voyage on the sea

suggest you will make a large purchase,
but if you dream specifically of the Pacific,

you are still mourning a loss you believed
you had gotten over. If you dream you are

shelling beans with your great-grandmother
while everyone else, including your mother,

is skinning a deer, you long to visit a place
you never thought you’d want to go. If, near the end

of this dream, just after you sit down to eat,
your family leans forward, toward you,

as though they share the same body,
and draws in a breath as though to speak,

you should write down what they say,
if you can hear it—words spoken

in a dream mean you are trying to remember
something someone told you years ago.

 

Note: This poem first appeared in Appalachian Journal.

The Beaming Reiki Masters

for C

Seven women and one man
stand in a straight line
with hands held
palm outward at chest height
as if they were saying stop

and stare right into
the camera—

but it’s not like stop at all—
the angle and curve of their thumbs

creates a gentleness
and the caption tells us
what they are doing

is sending healing energy
to whoever views this picture.

The ones wearing white could be ghosts
though the one in wide stripes grounds
the lot of them Toledo, Ohio, 1980.
The trees in the background seem like peers.

I looked and felt a tingle.
Do you believe in what you can’t see?
Find the photo and tell me.

 

Clairvoyance

My friend who is learning to be clairvoyant says the soul’s greatest hope is to enter a body. When a soul enters a body, it’s thrilled. It’s like the best thing that ever happened to a soul. The body loves the soul too. The body hears the voice of the soul as the voice of God.

My other friend who is an accountant doubts all this. She says it’d be better for a soul to be separate. Why would the soul want to deal with a body? A soul can’t drink wine, I point out. We are at a wine bar. The soul can’t run and jump, see colorful leaves—it is fall. She’s not buying it. But I believe. My friend’s friend who owns the wine bar brings us more wine, for free. Pear, she is saying, and honey.

The world we cannot heal, that is our bride are words from a poem by Alicia Ostriker that I have written on a Post-It above my desk, which is another way of saying everything is everything. The soul returns to the one, my friend says. I tell the story of visiting my friend’s clairvoyance class to our other friend. It’s a real class, one I would like to join. They did a reading, not of my future, more like my present. My auras. Were they right? she asks. Well, they said I had a lavender rose, with one leaf. Leaves correspond to number of children so that’s right.

They also said I had an outdated belief that women can’t be powerful. Is that true? my other friend asks. It probably is. Around the same time I had a chance encounter with an Indian fortune-teller. Like from India? Yes. And she said in the fall I was going to get a new job, but I had to think big. Don’t think about being in a fishbowl, the fortune-teller said, think about being in an ocean. That was first, before I visited the class. And at the class they said I was swimming in scuba gear. And I was frustrated because I wasn’t getting anywhere. Because what I couldn’t see was that I was in a fishbowl. This is a good story, and true, but she looks skeptical.

I tell my other friend her hair is beautiful, and she gasps and covers her head with her hands. It’s—she pauses—well, thank you, but we’re going away next week, and after that there’s my presentation, and I need to make an appointment. In the light of the wine bar, her hair looks like gold. This was before my friend told us about how the body hears the voice of the soul as the voice of God. Maybe if it had been after it would have been different.

It’s difficult, to love the body. It’s difficult to live in the world. Already today I could tell you a hundred sad things. This year one of my students has a bruised face. I hope his soul is still happy to be with his body. I hope his life gets better so he can look back from the end and be happy. Like looking out the window of an airplane. The world growing smaller and bigger at the same time.

 

Note: This poem first appeared at Passages North.

#COLFAXMARATHONRELAY

Dear running, we both know I hate you, so I’m not sure how I ended up awake before 5:00 eating a banana, layering long underwear, tying my shoes and catching a ride to the football stadium where my leg of our relay begins,

where when I arrive I find Whitman’s masses wearing tutus and cancer ribbons, carrying balloons and signs that say Finish What You Started and Go Dad and This Is For You Maria RIP and If You Don’t Want Your Beer I’ll Take Your Ticket,

but when it’s my turn to run I run as much as I can, I’m not a runner so I’m out of breath quick and as I walk the masses pass me, laughing, talking, panting, or in silence, some listening to music, one person with, inexplicably, a book on tape,

and people on the sidelines cheer us on, bang on cowbells, one man with a keyboard is playing Tiny Dancer, making us laugh, and as I run again I pass the same people who just passed me and when I walk again they pass me back,

and at the turn to the lake the water sparkles, someone stops to tie his shoe, cups are scattered at the hydration station like the aftermath of a giant party and we crush them as we pass, and now the geese and ducks are watching us

wondering what in the world are we doing and I think as I run the only answer is we are being human, celebrating the body, the feet, the legs, for the man being pushed in his wheelchair simply the flesh, the eyes, the breath, we are running

because it’s a Sunday in May in Denver and we are here, there is sunshine and Gatorade, I am holding a baton someone gave to me to hold for a very short time and that I will pass on very soon so I keep running while I have it, running with everyone else

Love Poem

I handed you my life like
I would hand you a glass of water
we were

basically babies
early twenties
the end of college

where will you go

I asked you said

I’ll go where you are

*

then began

the long journeys, long hikes
up tall mountains

then arrived
the crickets in the bathtub
we trapped under glass
and took outside

then came the spinach
bolting in March
two cats with lost collars

the honeysuckle, zinnias

a painting of the moon

a child like the side
of a triangle we didn’t know
we were

our life a river
flooded with colors
and things
we have chosen

*

you said
I’ll go where you are and
I said okay
I said yes, yes

*

and when we watched
the documentary about
the planet turning to fire

I dreamed
a long elegy

while you dreamed
solutions

*

and if my life’s a long
ocean you’re an island

a rowboat

an oar extending
to my outstretched arm

the man holding the oar

all of these at once

*

I handed you my life like

I would hand you a glass of water

you said yes and drank

 

Buffalo Creek Campground

If I want to see the spirit of God in everything,
I have to see it in this man who is screaming
at his wife at 6 AM while sunlight edges
down the shrubby hills toward our tents.
Get up and fuck are the only real words
I can make out through their camper walls
though I can hear her muffled replies
now and then, I can’t see, I think, and some fucks
of her own. I don’t know why she can’t see—
contacts? Are her glasses broken?—and
my stomach freezes in fear, for her
and for myself for no clear reason except
proximity to violence. And for no clear reason,
when the man walks over hours later
under the now high sun, his shadow invisible,
to ask if his kid can play with our kids,
I say yes. And when he shows up at sunset
with steaks to thank us, we are civil, even friendly,
though our smiles are mostly fake
and the dusk is skittish with breeze.
He grills the meat, which none of us eat.
I talk to his wife. Her face is plump, unbruised.
When to our intense relief they all go home,
it’s dark. It’s easy for me to love in the abstract
but in the night woods while the campfire blazes
my shadow stretches taller than the pines
and it trembles like anyone else’s.

Untitled (By the end)

By the end, we won’t remember what

happened when. We’ll remember hardly

any of it. The only thing that makes it

 

bearable is all the blossoming. The trees

turn white, then green. What unfolds

for me unfolds secondhandedly.

 

While they’re injecting the midazolam,

I am watching little girls in black

leotards play tag. Or it takes longer

 

than I think and we are already driving

home for dinner. But let’s go back

to before that. There was a murder.

 

It was violent. It was not an accident.

A young woman died and a young man

went to prison. Elsewhere, unrelated,

 

I want to be a poet. I fall in love with

someone. He becomes a lawyer.

We become a mother and a father.

 

We move to Denver. My husband meets

the young man in prison. He’s no longer

young. He becomes a kind of friend.

 

Of course this takes years. I learn

things like in supermax, the inmates

are required by law to have access

 

to one hour of sunlight per day.

The light though a skylight counts.

The men can’t touch their families

 

or each other. The day before their

executions, their mothers cannot hug

their sons good-bye. No one cares about this.

 

Why should they? Their victims’ parents

didn’t get to hug their children before—

yes. That is correct. So what’s wrong

 

with me? My husband sends his client books.

Should I say his name? He likes

vampire books. Mysteries. Thrillers.

 

When my husband calls him with the news

that the last appeal has been denied,

Clayton says Have a good weekend

 

when they hang up the phone. My husband

flies to Oklahoma City. I wait.

Amelia’s dance class is in a church.

 

I sit in the sanctuary and imagine

I am holding Clayton’s hand.

I am ridiculous. But my hand feels

 

warm for a minute. My husband calls

and he is weeping. Or he is furious.

He’s not dead yet, he says.

 

They kicked us out. They closed

the curtain and they made us leave.

It’s the end of April; everything’s in bloom.

 

It snows, then the sun comes back.

By summer, we should feel better.

By autumn, we might forget.

 

Our garden grows. We harvest. I walk

through the alley carrying vegetables.

When I get home and dump out the cucumbers,

 

I’m filled suddenly with joy. I pirouette

around the kitchen and imagine Clayton

is dancing with me, his spirit, anyway.

 

I think he is. I wish for it. I imagine

his victim’s mother wishing deeply

for my death, and I don’t blame her for it.

 

Note: This poem first appeared at Colorado Independent.

Why I Love My Mother

 

earth and ocean warm water warm

towel her hands rubbing sunscreen on

my shoulders warm towels we washed

and folded every day of life earth

 

earth kneeling to grasp the green

beans canning them steam and sweat a thousand

thrift shop dresses steam in our faces

laughing laughing mountain—

 

starshower grandmother earth

and ocean volcano fear and

fury hurricane tulip sidewalk

skipping—break her back—

 

 

hold her hand walk on

her spine lay down pine

and maple cloud and

dolphin darkness sunrise—

 

moon and moon and moon—

Regret

By the seaside my daughter, age seven, sat down beside me
and nestled her body into mine and was still.

Her shoulder fit nicely in my armpit.
We sat together in the sun, looking out at the water,

which was clear and sparkling, as water sometimes is.

I had plotted and planned all morning to go somewhere
I wanted to go, and after awhile, not long,

I got up to go there.

If I had stayed, the moment would have ended
another way, I know: she would have asked

for a snack or wriggled away to swim. But that it was me

who broke the spell—

ocean, sand, our skin
reunited under the soft

pink and white blanket
printed with blue morning glories

we’d bought as a souvenir—

I wanted this poem to end with anything else but

oh, daughter, flower, I am sorry

was the only way it could.