Recurrent I: Walking to New Mexico in My Sleep
It takes nearly no time at all, this quick jaunt along
the Oklahoma Panhandle, so long as I don’t stop
to admire huge temples of fossil fuels: white miles
of pipes bending upon themselves, bathed in a sort
of perpetual just-past-dusk not-quite-light,
all clean and humming with no one around (at least,
their acres of well-lit parking are unoccupied.)
nearly no time at all,
but it is more true to say
There is no time to take;
it is always three in the morning, so that I am
eternally up late but never running behind.
I can never get past Clayton when I go this way,
although I am not sure whether I am supposed to,
so perhaps it all works out.
The hotel there is far too big for a small town;
I suspect this is by design. Otherwise, how could
there be these ingeniously (maddeningly)
laid-out hallways, too narrow to turn around in,
purporting to lead to my room but instead spiraling
ever inward for nonexistent miles and hours?
Someone is waiting for me here. If I can only
remember who, perhaps I will be allowed to arrive.
I would check my watch, but I already know the time.
Kansas City Which is Also Overland Park, Kansas: Dream I
It takes a while to place this stretch of street (or rather
streets), with its red-brick antique stores, its hair salons,
its bakery and gallery and anachronous travel agency.
Someone, it seems, has folded the map so as to overlay
45th Street east of State Line and 80th west of Metcalf,
then set it down on a steepish slope, east at the bottom.
Two small white houses, one on each side, sit atop
the street. They are in slight need of paint, but not
so badly as to get letters from either city or both.
This street exists nearly perpetually in early evening;
on rare occasions, you might catch it on a sleepy
Saturday morning. It is always sometime between
late May and early July, and the air often smells
of hidden roses and imminent warm rain.
The sidewalks are empty, but there is a sun-faded
red pickup – a round-fendered Chevy, something
that rolled off the line in Truman’s only full term –
parked halfway up the hill on the south side.
Whatever might lie to the west, beyond the hill’s crest,
I have not seen it. I am not sure that anyone has, aside
from whoever lives in those white houses. Sometimes,
dark songless birds fly over from that direction.
No matter what time it is, the businesses all closed
five minutes ago. I will have to come back tomorrow.
Third Floor of My Office Building Which is Also the Rec Room in My Old House: Dream I
It all started downstairs, an offhand Nerf ball dunk
on an eight-foot plastic rim; I hung in the air just
long enough to estimate the gap from soles to floor.
Now, with an audience and a high ceiling, I have
decided to give this new ability a full workout.
First rising to tiptoe, as men in my family always
do in times of urgency or strong emotion, I bounce
twice on the balls of my feet, then swing arms back
forward up and rise – less a true leap than pushing
off from the bottom of a pool, letting buoyancy
do the work. I latch on to a rafter by my fingertips,
swaying in the faint breeze of fans electric and human.
A high-pitched sound in my ear; somehow I know –
an instinct born in my late middle age – that this is
not the ringing born of jamming my head into my
favorite bar band’s speakers back when that sort of
thing made Coors-Light-and-idiocy-fueled sense.
This is the song of air in my lungs, air lighter than
itself, and when I release it all and take in new breath,
I will be floorbound again, and old, and ordinary.
My landing is slow, soft; I inhale deeply, prepare for
another takeoff, but all novelty has worn off.
My colleagues disperse, reoccupied by meetings
and deadlines. I should go to lunch soon, I suppose –
but first, let me rise one last time, be more than
what reality allows. (Just one more last time.)
Perhaps I can master a sort of hovering swim, shoot
a game of eight-ball against myself without ever
touching the floor. Slop counts, or at least until I
get the hang of hanging at the proper height.
What else is one to do on a Friday, the codes of
dress and gravity both suspended with pay?