When You Finally Know

Suddenly you awake, and the
three-year-old who wondered what
it would be like to wake up old has
been answered.

Your first love no longer holds a place
in the heart you swore would never heal
from the breaking,
and the monsters in the closet,
the alligators under the bed,
have revealed their presence,
and have been shamed into hiding
under some other anxious child’s bed,
although you didn’t mean to send them.

Those who would disappoint you,
have done so,
the husbands and mothers
who would drive you to suicide
are dead, or are at last dead to you.

It’s funny.
The day you feared the most,
the day you realized you were not
going to climb Mount Everest
has come and gone,
and you did not collapse
in a small plume of smoke
of the nothingness
you perceived your life to be,
but rather you got up,
went to work,
came home,
played with your dog,
and made supper.

you seek the cloak of sleep –
your dreams are movies
of people you knew
but did not know, and
houses where you lived and
left roll by in slow motion,
the unfamiliar curtains billowing
in the still wind, and you see
but just for a moment,
a small face in the window
lit with the pale yellow
of late afternoon sun.

Dreams Complex and Confusing

014Have you ever woken up, the dream still clinging to you as the alarm insists upon its way? I’ve had a bunch of those dreams lately, and I can’t tell if it’s because I’ve been extraordinarily tired as of late, or if the Universe is playing Blackjack with me. I keep morphing people I knew with people I now see regularly — but the hybrid has the personality of neither person.

Today, I live in a house that hosts the drama of the sun every day. The back of the house is dead east, and the sun comes from above a crest of a hill. The light filters through the trees and hits the art room first, then peeks into the laundry room, and if the blinds are open, blinds me in my bed. Downstairs, on the east side, the library is filled with light and the sun room is next, and then the kitchen. In the afternoon, the room-by-room burst of sunlight is no less joyful. I love looking out of every window in this house–and having moved a piano through eight moves in 16 years, I’m so happy to finally have a home.

Which brings me back to the dream. I had a dream figure, someone I have never seen in waking life, walking through the rooms of the condo I lived in with my first husband–and I was trying to explain how beautiful the view was out of each window. Only that home didn’t have the nature vision I now enjoy. With the exception of the Hackensack River, and the Empire State Building which was perfectly framed through the dining room window, the other windows looked directly into my neighbor’s kitchen windows, and the other kitchen windows had a perfect view of the dumpster and the other condos around the circle drive.  In the dream it was so frustrating because I was trying to relate my view from now into what I saw then, to a person I didn’t know. 

I’m never sorry to wake up from a dream like that, and to be glad it was just a dream. 

Have you, dear reader, had dreams that have driven you crazy? Please share your experience in the comments. 

In the Morning

Virginia and Grandma at the Little Beach

I am a burnt ember
in the morning –
The dreams have been 
scorched out of me. 

Startled, I awake
covered in soot,
my throat dry
from crying.

It’s finally quiet,
the movie-reel 
images have stopped–
nothing more I can do
or not do.

I lay my blackened face
against my grandmother’s
ghost and she keeps me
from drifting away.

As she always has,
as she always will.



I can’t blame the moon,
It was a new moon
And the night had vacuumed
Even the starlight away.

I can’t blame the dream,
The strange hotel I live in
With the crooked floors
And the room I can never find.

I can’t blame the nightlight
With its burnt out bulb
And darkened angel
Unable to disperse the shadows.

No, I can only blame myself
For being afraid of the dark,
Wanting respite from the pain,
For trying to outwait the night



In the morning

I am a burnt ember –

The dreams have been

Scorched out of me.

I awake

Covered in soot,

Dry from crying.

In the pre-dawn


It is finally quiet,

The images vanquished.

I lay my blacked face

Against my

Grandmother’s ghost

And she keeps me

From drifting away.