dream (7)

“Why are we here?” I ask.

Johanna and I sit beneath a large oak tree growing on top of a giant wooden pole. The pole, a papery white birch trunk, measures fifteen feet in diameter and rises seven miles above the ocean. From where we are the waves look grey and flat, as if we could press leaves on them.

“Why wouldn’t you want to be here? This place is awesome.”

Heavy green-gray clouds envelop us, and my stomach churns. “Everything looks wrong,” I reply. “We shouldn’t be able to see the ocean this high up.”

“That doesn’t matter. This is so much better than Oakland, anyway.”

I remember this dream. We’d lounged in the sun on the edge of the pier and watched pedestrians chat in the open-air restaurant or build sandcastles by the beach. The dream had been cheerful, warm, lovely, and sun-drenched – the complete opposite of this dreary isolation.

“I don’t know what you’re talking about. Oakland was beautiful.”

Johanna scoffs. “Really? I couldn’t stand the heat and the sweaty tourists. It was disgusting!”

“Better than now.” I rub my hands together and shudder. “I’m freezing.”

As we speak, the ocean seems to shimmer. One moment water surrounds us, and I’m convinced we could dip our hands into the sea just by reaching over. When I blink, however, the ocean turns into grass. Hills roll into view as raindrops fall softly from the sky.

“I recognize this feeling.”

“What?”

“My classmates and I had to drive downtown to shoot a video project once, and we filmed in front of the capital. There were tons of people so we couldn’t get as close as we wanted, but then it started to rain. We barely noticed it at first, even as the area started to clear out, and suddenly it started pouring. Just before that, the rain was like this. Gentle, almost forgiving.” I frown. “Almost like a mother singing her child to sleep.”

“Weirdo.”

“Says the girl who prefers the middle of nowhere to California.”

“Whatever. But hey, does that mean it’s going to storm soon?”

“Maybe. Nothing else here is familiar, though, not even the hills. I just find the rainfall soothing.”

“You’d think everything in your dream is just a mashup of stuff you experienced while awake.”

“I doubt it. I’ve never seen Oakland in my entire life. Also, I would never imagine talking to my sister on the top of a humongous pole in the middle of the ocean. Why are we here, of all places?”

“Well, I can only remember whatever you remember, so I don’t know why you’re asking me. Besides, it’s probably just a random setting your mind generated. It’ll be perfect if it does storm, anyway. Then the waves will be high enough for us to swim in.”

“How long do you think that’ll take?”

“Maybe a week or a few days, if we’re lucky.”

“Will we dive off together?”

“Obviously. We always do.”

Beneath us, raindrops batter the waves as the ocean starts to roar. I already feel hopeful we’ll swim in the ocean after all, just the two of us, the way we never did when Johanna was alive and I was awake.

~

pair the story with this song.

a/n: i originally wrote this two years ago, but it felt strangely fitting for how i currently feel about our future right now – lost and apprehensive, but also hopeful. remember that you are amazing, that you are loved, and that you have the ability to act and the right to be yourself. i think that, no matter what happens from now on, we will be able to power through these troubling times for the sake of human dignity.

placeholder nine

you find the book quite early one morning and laugh at bad puns. too many too little, not enough time, thyme, a clockwork garden, a hot summer’s day with the water shut off and broccoli dying under the sun. environmentalism, what is. what is not is the brief hope that this will last a while longer because this is finite, unstoppable, because now is the time to throw words out and bring colors in. this is when hyphenations like ‘sun-kissed’ and ‘sun-drenched’ and ‘sun-strained’ come to mind, when air grows cool and trees shed seas of flaming leaves at the end of january. every other sentence is a lie, with the rest lifted from a stale repetitive repository. remember bridges. step into the courtyard, careful not to trip over the ledge where your grandfather broke his leg and his heart. everything is stone. cold: the fishes quiver. a motorcycle last used in 2005. remember to keep your chin up when you swim through a rainwatered living room. remember fruit candies, beaded numbers. remember not to cry when the smell of urine hits like starvation. everywhere is water. compared to others, your book tastes like viciously luscious cake. the architecture is the same; so are those tears. sight, a privilege, wanders permanently when lost. someone breaks open a guitar and takes the sounds inside. dancing ensues.
(eventually you’ll learn to love these floating faces. you’ll learn to love your dreams.)

dream (5): an unknown practice

When it begins to rain, you tell yourself, I love the rain, and I’m not going to drown. In the first dream rain pounds against the house, but nothing leaks so you say, it will be all right because I love the rain. By the second dream water seeps through the window and beneath the doors, and your living room resembles a muddy pond as rain still pours outside. Your conviction wavers ever so slightly, but you reassure yourself again: I love the rain, I love the rain, and it will be all right. Rain continues to fall. The world blurs into wavy patterns, and green melds into blue as trees bend into themselves under the weight of water. I love the rain, you repeat, but now your body’s numb, your skin’s completely soaked, and you live in a swamp of slowly decaying furniture and liquid sediment. Each morning is a gasp of air as you break the surface of the water and tell yourself, I love the rain, and my dreams aren’t real. Each morning you kick with all your strength and propel yourself upwards, relieved for a moment, alive for another day, while at night you’re gradually sinking towards the bottom. You’re up to your neck in water by your penultimate dream, but the torrents haven’t ceased. You don’t pray to the skies anymore, nor to yourself, and you just hope you’re lucky enough to survive until you wake up. You try to wade out, but you’ve forgotten how to swim. At the end you realize, as your head submerges and a liter of water fills your lungs, that infidelity was not what drowned you; you remained devoted to rain every morning, when you woke up and ran your fingers through your hair and sighed a love song to the storm clouds behind your eyes. You died because the rain loved you back. It continued to fall, without end, until you no longer pledged your adoration and began to fear it instead.

(When you wake up with your face buried in your pillow, you sit up and breathe once again.)

twins in rain town

Constant pounding rings in Judith’s ear
as another day fades into black.
Melodies that only she can hear

thrum along her path as she trudges back
home, sloshing against oceans in her boots,
with her eyes closed and her body slack.

“It wasn’t like this,” Gramma refutes,
when Judy and Jo ask her about the rain.
“There used to be splendid trees, their roots

latticing the grassy banks by Silver Lane.
Now all we ever see are endless torrents
of water on a barren blue terrain.”

Jo clasps her hands. “Talk about the forests!”
She imagines floods reduced to streams
that weave around fairy rings and leafy giants.

Judith’s life now consists of mottled dreams.
She can still see Johanna sitting on the edge
of Silver Lane and laughing at her, it seems,

for not joining her on that rusty blue bridge.
“Why should we stay? There’s nothing here
for us. Even Silver Lane is just a bridge

that, when the moon glowed, held a silver flare.
But there’s no moon, no stars, no light,
only heavy clouds and rain.” Her words ring clear

above the incessant pitter-patter of the night.
“Let’s search some day for meadows in full bloom.”
Without waiting for Judith, Jo tumbles out of sight

and lets herself be swallowed by the gloom.

scent

soft gray rain, dissonance
tragedy romanticized
into something relatable

bittersweet dreams wrapped
in constant crisp cold

melancholy remains static
no flowers, only dying
autumn leaves

Before the Rain

Before the rain, the world is green
and not a soul is to be seen.
This peaceful day, this tranquil hour
is not disturbed before the shower
of crystal tears and scattered swirls
of tiny, perfect milky pearls –
Instead, a filmy silk of jade
upon the sky is slowly laid
and spread across the saddened day
until it laps the dreams that lay
among the twinkling stars abright
that’re hushed by rain’s green holy light –
Before the rain, the world is green
and not a soul is to be seen.