The Actual Dream

Escher, The Encounter
Image by tomo(+) via Flickr

Nighttime.   A bungalow on the beach.  Everything inside the house is white.  There’s a screened back porch and I step outside to enjoy the breeze.  Moonlight illuminates the ocean and I notice a bonfire under the palm trees.  Around the fire, two circles.  The larger one of men playing drums, the smaller one of women dancing and singing.  Their silken black skins shimmer in the firelight.  

On the bungalow to my right, a young man wearing a white linen suit leans against the porch door and lights a cigarette.  He says matter-of-factly  “Dont stare.  They don’t like it.  They’ve been known to attack onlookers for the affront.”  His words confuse me.  He turns around to go inside the house and I see that he looks like my husband when younger.

I don’t mean to offend the dancers so I decide to close the screen door.  When I kneel to engage the bottom lock I see before me the hem of  a multicolored kente skirt.  I look up.  A female dancer stands above me, her face full of rage.  She starts yelling words I can’t understand while repeatedly slamming her fists on my head.  I retreat and curl up near the french doors that lead to the living room.  I call to my father.  “Papá!  Papá!”   My voice is weak, but I persevere and remember that in my dreams, when I need to scream or yell, I lose my voice.  As I uncoil from the fetal position, the woman starts hitting my head once more. 

I summon strength from within, and as I rise I say “Mira, hija de la gran puta…”

I woke up saying the words and feeling her fists on my head.


A dream revisited

Palm thanksgiving stars

Palm trees sway in the breeze, entranced by the rhythm of drums.  Silky black skin summons gods in the moonlight.  

Warm sand, bright stars. 

Caribbean nights resemble a far removed ancestral home, reminds them of an ocean passage marked with tears and blood.  

Anger and Joy, entwined.

Everlasting freedom refuses to be snatched or caged.  It thrives in adversity.  Transforms hatred into love.  

Humble soul, triumphant spirit.

We watch from a distance, bewitched. 


In awe.


An ocean of green beneath him

He soaks up the sun

Joyful he crawls and twists smelling his surroundings


Ducks and geese momentarily catch his attention

But they are no match for freedom

Or little twigs on the ground

Or pinecones


I call his name and he runs in the opposite direction

Glancing back every few steps to make sure I’m not gaining ground



Look back



Look back


I stare


Remembering that once

Not so long ago

I too ran away from my name

Thoroughly enjoying the sun


Whirling dervishes or Darveshes, Rumi Fest 2007.
Image via Wikipedia

i hate you i hate you i hate you i hate you i hate you i hate you hate me you hate me you hate me you hate me you hate me you hate me you hate hate i hate hate i hate hate you hate hate i end you begin i end you begin i end you begin i begin you end i begin you end i begin you end where do you end how do i begin overlap overlap overlap overlap overlap overlap overlap overlap you love i love you love i love you love i love i love you love i love you love me intertwined intertwined intertwined intertwined intertwined intertwined up up up down down down up up up down down down no beginning no end no beginning no end no beginning no end no beginning no end no beginning no end no begging to end no end to begging no pleading twirling twirling twirling twirling twirling twirling twirling twirling  no pleading whirlwind whirlwind whirlwind whirlwind whirlwind whirlwind no begging dizzy dizzy dizzy dizzy dizzy dizzy dizzy dizzy dizzy dizzy dizzy dizzy ashes to ashes dust to dust ashes to ashes dust to dust ashes to ashes dust to dust i count the steps to your door ashes to ashes dust to dust ashes to ashes dust to dust i count the beats of my heart ashes to ashes dust to dust ashes to ashes dust to dust ashes to ashes dust to dust ashes to ashes dust to dust i count the days passed and days to come ashes to ashes dust to dust out of the ashes rebirth once more out of the ashes rebirth once more out of the ashes no dust no dust


impressionist afterglow with ascending souls
Image by ηeliʘ via Flickr

I thought about dying today – hadn’t thought about death for a long time.

No longer a trivial fantasy of dying so our parents feel guilty for their tyrannical whims.  Or fickle suicidal thoughts of adolescence, easily replaced with the knowledge of a not so distant independence.   Not even the nauseating possibility of a child’s mortality. 

I entertain the beauty of death – its quiet elegance.

The one renunciation our body has prepared for from the moment it was born.

That last second of corporeal awareness followed by the soul’s emancipation.

Floating freely – At one with everything and everyone. 

Perspicacious and no longer bound by gravity we illuminate the sky, careful to reveal only what the ones left behind need to fulfill the road that leads them to us.


Mary Cassatt (1844–1926), The Bath Oil on canv...
Image via Wikipedia

You lit candles in makeshift altars and prayed with the faith of a child while I entertained myself by melting striped plastic straws in the flickering flames.

You read Tagore and I wove his stories into the magical religion forced upon me at school.  The nuns did not appreciate this.

We ate sunflower seeds at the movies, sung funny tunes on our way to the post office and played card games while talking of ghosts and spirits and death.

I loved the way sunlight illuminated our little corner of the world, the smell of geraniums and Windex and Spring.  And you.

But all good things come to an end.  New adventures and misfortunes were waiting for us under the tropical sun.

And so, we packed our bags and left a life loved for the promise of comfort and fortune.  A new life that never was to be.

We learned new smells and sounds and colors, grew accustomed to the Panavision quality of the light around us.

Homesickness replaced by nostalgia.  And melancholia.  And despair.

We trudged along until words once foreign became normal and joy loomed in the background.

Soon we learned that fruits once sweeter than sugar, often rot and ferment, their noxious stench permeating everything

I didn’t like the new you, you didn’t like the new me.  We didn’t like this new life that looked so easy from afar

Spring and Windex and geraniums and even you smelled different.  Were different, as was I.

No more candles. No more altars.  No more playing cards or walking aimlessly, enjoying the city.

Under the glare of this never-ending sunshine only sadness and disappointment in the knowledge that we could never return

Our footsteps quickly disappearing behind us, pushing us forward.

Away from the simple happiness we once knew.

See saw


You decide / I wonder

You stand quiet / I fear

You withdraw / I press further

You spill your guts / I lick my wounds

You stand your ground / I stare into the distance

You explain / I explain

You demand / I concede

We relent


We draw imaginary lines –  Boundaries defined

Let the games begin

You work

I work

You wait

I wait

You insist

I expect

We ignore things

But they don’t go away

They linger and grow stronger

No longer us

There’s you – There’s me

We are blind

But we don’t know this

Hands intent on molding – reshaping to our satisfaction

Loving the idea of what was or could be

Past or future – but no present

And we die a little every day

Surrounded by a love that doesn’t