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His spine curved just enough to squeeze between my knees and he stayed there, for hours and hours, like he was nailing me to the bed. If I moved, bad things would happen so I let cat-nightmare fill me with cramps and brown auras, and, for some reason, I also seemed to be a man in armor. Meanwhile, the cat got a good night’s sleep, and downstairs Tom snored to the soundtrack of some New Wave French film, the sort that looks like a really sexy cigarette ad, and in retrospect, now that I’m awake and lucid, I wonder what it is about sleep that is so alluring and absurd. I mean, recently I dreamed I met a professor of heckling who was also flying dachshunds on a kite string. My dreams are ridiculous, and I endure them as my legs rot into numbness under the iron claws of a cat who always gets his own way. Yet, despite all, my bed is the most beautiful square in the house—line-dried sheets, snowy comforter, the window-blind clacking gently, just like it might in a Virginia Woolf novel, all of the imagined sweetness of childhood distilling into the tap and swish of quiet wind, the drowsy hum of tires on a wet street, the murmur of the New Wave French people falling in love or robbing a bank, and this cat, the bossiest boyfriend I have ever entertained, crammed between my knees, purring himself into glory. A window-blind ticks in a midnight breeze. The dreams rise and fall, dimly . . . a barn full of Holsteins I’ve forgotten to feed, and now I’m trying to drive my tiny car through a riverbed full of stones, and even the fears and terrors dissolve into a version of acceptance. This is how I will live out half of the rest of my life—wrapped in air-scented cotton, afflicted with a brain that cannot stop telling stories, under the wind, the weight of stars, the faraway blink of morning.
Copyright 2023 Dawn Potter
Dawn Potter’s many books include Accidental Hymn (Deerbrook Editions, 2022). She directs the Frost Place Conference on Poetry and Teaching.