“In all chaos there is a cosmos, in all disorder, a secret order.”—Carl Jung
The man followed me but I was smart.
First, I made sure it was dusk. Then I threw
a cloak onto him whenever he came
too close. It made him, and all he saw, disappear.
I could see him. Struggle. Like a bird
with a bit of plastic around its wing. Or throat.
I climbed out the window, conjured a horse
with wings—one orange, one purple—to ferry me
through the sky. He could soar too. It was a problem
until we landed. I hid in a desiccate garden.
He missed me. He kept running. What was he?
Love. Love and its harpoons.
Walking down a gravel road, I saw a sign
by a clapboard house, its drought-riven garden:
FOR SALE. The realtor: “Spiritual Realty.”
(My dreams are heavy-handed.)
Inside, its floor smooth as perfume.
Dark. Empty as a forgotten word.
A noise: a girl with pigtails is being chased
by a smaller child dressed in blue.
I know she’s a ghost. She needs my help.
But I can’t help; this isn’t my home.
I say so and leave. More gravel road,
more stormy horizon. The usual tornadoes
with their obvious meanings.
I’m not saying that girl was me.
Barbara Walters interviewed me in my childhood bedroom.
She asked about the rape I experienced in a different dream.
I might have been lying about the rape—it felt so far away.
But I did feel different. There’s a sad girl inside my throat,
I told her, my hand to my neck. She nodded,
pen to lip. She wrote FRAGILE on her notepad.
Her black and white dress like a crossword puzzle,
she left on foot, crossing cornfields, for once
free of tornadoes. Our interview glistened
inside me, a wet pearl. The sky turned boozy and hot.
My lover and I found two coyotes on the prairie.
They looked like dogs but we knew better.
The young one carried a dead quail in its mouth.
The old one was skeletal and mute.
We followed them (she said we should).
The prairie, its frost, gave way to a city,
vast and ornate. My lover grew vague
as if made of vellum, her voice milky with departure.
But she remained, less scar than memorized song.
I knew, soon, I’d have to tell her which coyote I’d feed.
My mouth felt stuffed with quail, yet my bones grew
old, fragile and recalcitrant as rotten teeth.
Those coyotes I mentioned before?
Well, they came back.
I followed them on a beach throttled with waves.
It was the future. The climate had changed.
The young one leapt waves, the old one shuffled
its movement thick with suffering.
I carried the young one into a hotel room.
I found the old one’s body barnacled with parasites
shaped like unicorn horns, screwed into his flesh.
And into mine. Removing them was pleasure and disgust.
I should figure out those coyotes, I know.
But explanation is blunt as paragraph.
That hair—I’d been growing it for years,
gray and thick as all gray things.
Past my waist, near my knees it drooped
when I finally unraveled it. How I ached
to cut it—yet. Its beauty like storm-colored ocean.
Its weight a second backbone.
I took it to my shoulders, a shimmery curtain.
I wept on waking: I saw the price then.
Growth compels its outsized taxes.
Diminishing that silver, I spoke to it.
My parents and I weeded a small garden.
They admired the plants—yarrow, milkweed,
geranium. It was night and a streetlight
hung above us, a shabby moon.
Our voices, too, were dimly lit.
I warned them a snake lived in the garden,
a black rat snake. It’s kind, I told them,
but very nervous. I saw its coiled oil-spill
and kept a wide berth. My parents listened,
but I could tell they were upset.
Three cats showed up, gray and matted.
They tried to scare off the snake. But nothing can.
A panther was stalking the scarecrow
my aunt had made of my grandmother,
so we shone a flashlight on it. Trick rung,
the panther slunk off into a different darkness.
We propped Grandmother-Scarecrow back up,
her dead face a grain sack. My aunt and I wished
she would speak, even if it was garbled or dim-witted.
Crows circled above us, black boomerangs.
We hoped they’d disappear, that the scarecrow
would grow a spine, some muscle, a booming voice
before holding us close in its (her?) hayloft scent,
robing us and robbing us—of what?
So, David Bowie was my boyfriend and we slept
side by side like rows of new peas in moonlight.
Except no moon slid across us and David
required a nightlight. I called it “the future” and refused it.
He persisted. By its yellow glare, I saw a spider
swing down from his red hair—it landed in a water
glass and gave birth to air plants, each rootless,
each a wild mohawk. The plants loomed over the spider.
I didn’t think any better of the future.
And what was he? Love. Love and its harpoons.