I just had the strangest dream
that you still loved me
Down in Georgia–
I watched all of our dreams come true
with you and someone else.
So many puppies in cages–
I unlocked one and it loved me instantly…
you said that I could have it, and shrugged,
and I was apprehensively joyous,
holding a soft black and white puppy who wriggled and licked me,
nuzzling my face with the sounds of uncomplicated joy.
You didn’t care about the puppy at all, and that sickened me.
You kept them locked up on the fire escape, so they wouldn’t get in the way.
I wanted to save it from you, take it with me everywhere–
but then I realized–
it loved everyone.
And it was more their puppy than mine.
I walked through our home, and it had grown into a mansion…
our castle at the top of the world
had grown even larger,
full of new people I’d never met,
with grand oak stairs up to a second story
that never existed– while I was there…
And everyone was happy and festive, and gallant…
They buzzed around each other like happy bees in a warm, dark, hive–
they buzzed around each other like they were all members of a huge,
My new love was there with me, or at least I think he was–
he was barely visible, barely audible.
Maybe even nonexistent.
I kept turning to him to remark on things, to express something–
joy or heart-gripping sorrow, or something–
but he wasn’t really there, and it was as though
I was trying to talk to my imaginary friend
in a crowded house
full of people who loved each other
and didn’t know
I walked through the crepuscular streets, familiar and imagined.
I walked through Savannah and Atlanta all at once–
they became one strange, imaginary city–
cobblestones and street names I remember–
The feeling of another time: oil lamps and thick, black, sooty shadows
thrown against old walls–
I was going to meet someone I’d met before.
A woman who looked like Cher and had what I needed.
A beautiful woman with twisted black hair,
in a house that looked like a friend’s house,
with a summer party in the back.
Circus tents and floating lanterns,
and cloths lines draped with beautiful bohemian garments
like huge, docile moths.
Walking there, I didn’t know if I had the money to buy what I needed,
but I needed it, so I went.
As she floated through her party, I kept pulling 100 dollar bills out of hidden pockets in my wallet
that even I didn’t know I had.
I hid them, lest she see them and make me overpay.
She acted as though she remembered me, but wasn’t sure from where.
Wasn’t sure if she could trust me.
She said: “Okay- but you have to pick a chevron first. You will wear it everywhere and it will keep you warm.”
On the cloths line were chevron sweaters, afghans, sparkling scarfs, and the most beautiful skirts I had ever seen.
None of the sweaters looked like they would look good on me, and I was transfixed by the skirts.
“Oooo! This skirt!” I exclaimed, giddy as Christmas morning.
She smiled somewhat wryly and said “Yes, this skirt. It will be yours.”
And she went inside, to get what I’d come for.
When she came back out, she was carrying an elegant paper shopping bag,
like the kind you’d get after shopping in a boutique, or at a florist’s shop.
Inside was a beautiful wreath made of delicate buds,
decorated with ribbons in all the colors of springtime.
She handed me a bottle of mist.
She said “Now, don’t spray this on the wreath, like some people do. Use it in rooms, or on yourself.”
She misted me liberally with it, and I smelled like something otherworldly–
almost like pine trees, almost like jelly beans.
“And so,” she said, rolling her eyes skyward and smiling ironically, “I’ll give you the skirt, and this, for five dollars.”
I felt impossibly lucky, but with a catch that I couldn’t quite figure out yet.
I smiled and gave her a five dollar bill that felt almost too real,
rolled up the skirt and put it in my purse, and walked off into the approaching morning,
feeling violas playing in my blood, giddy yet somber.
The streets were strange at that hour–
people were partying in pubs and restaurants, and other people were walking stiffly to work,
avoiding eye contact with the people who shouted happily and kept drinking,
walking the lilting walk of people who have had “too much” to drink–
when “too much” is exactly the right amount to have had,
and life feels worth celebrating.
The bag with the wreath fluttered on every passing breeze, floating behind me as though it would disappear if my fingers slipped,
floating back to another world, where it belonged.
I walked over cobblestones and through strange parties,
a costume party in the federal reserve where everyone was dressed up like
colonials and ancient Greeks,
and the stairs turned to rubber under my feet as I left, and I slid, undaunted, to the street.
I didn’t make it further than the corner of Tenth and Peachtree when I woke up,
And then it occurred to me: “There” doesn’t mean what it used to.
There is no one waiting for me “There”…
and I don’t even know
if my key
would still open
I had fallen asleep with a picture of you up on my laptop–
a picture I took in your car, after the show you played in North Carolina.
When I woke up, on the screen was a picture of me,
wearing a plaid shirt and looking mellowly down at my guitar as I played it.
I looked exactly like you.
Same shirt, same expression, same haircut.
What does it mean?