Sunday, March 14, 2010

Week in Seven Words #6

It's not the first time this has happened: seeing the text of a story or poem in a dream. While dreaming I read it, took delight in it, but now that I'm awake the words have vanished, and I can't remember them. Some people have told me that this sort of phenomenon isn't real the way I want it to be, that my waking mind is just filling in some blanks afterwards. But I know I had something, and that it went missing and left no visible trace. I like to think the words are still somewhere in my mind and that they'll come out some other way.

The first stinging insect of the season that I've spotted. It writhes against the paving and looks like a sharp bright bead in the sunlight. Something probably struck it down; its wings twitch uselessly.

One kind of classic conditioning experiment carried out on lab rats is a startle experiment, in which a rat in a cage is subjected to a very loud sound (which may be paired with a milder warning noise or other stimulus that the rat will come to associate with the imminent fright). Where I live the building-wide fire alarm system has been malfunctioning from early afternoon to early evening; unlike the rats in some of those experiments we don't get the benefit of a warning each time the next ear-shattering fit of shrieking starts up. Also unlike the rats, we at least have the liberty of leaving when we're fed up.

In the middle of a pedestrian lane sits a cast-iron chair; it was left there probably as a joke of some kind. The chair has delicate curved armrests, and its back has been molded into the shape of a heart. I crouch and peer through the heart at the cloudy sunset down the lane, at the bare trees, a passing biker and a small knot of people discussing their dinner plans. The chair looks lost and a little forlorn, unmoored from a circle of identical chairs chained to a table twenty feet away.

At lunchtime I leave my coat behind when I take a stroll. The sun is warm on my shoulders and neck.

The hole in the wall has been repaired. The wall is now a clean smooth off-white, and the smell of paint permeates the room. By the side of the bed there's also a small new rug, rainbow-striped; first thing when I get out of bed each morning my feet land on a splash of sharp colors.

The train station late at night. The ceiling expands in a pattern of red and gold. The announcements sound like faint echoing chants. Aisles and benches are empty and clean. Here and there a few people sit bowed over their luggage, dozing until it's time for them to depart.


naida said...

I like evaporation and tidy.
I dont recall reading in a dream.

Plutarch said...

It may be quoted just a little to often, but I never tire of the Lao Tzu story, where he dreams that he is a butterfly, but when he wakes doesn't know whether he is a man dreaming that he is a butterly or a butterfly dreaming that he is a man.

John Hayes said...

I've had dreams about music that "I'd never heard before"--& Eberle has too. In fact, I know at least one of her songs came to her in a dream. I haven't so much had the poetic line experience (that I recall), but I know when I'm writing a lot sometimes I've woken with a fixed image or words in my mind.

The tale of the stranded chair is sad & lovely.