Dream Logic Always Works Against You

Mary-Alice Daniel

Rule 1 was perverse: if the witch in bed with me climaxed first,

her spells would strengthen tenfold.

The first unspoken conditional, the contract throughout —

that I was anticipated

by whatever wanted to overwhelm me.

                   Occasionally, you will have only the notion of liking the word songster.

What about the emblems? Who are the mascots?

A woman who collects Bakelite bracelets,

an early synthetic from the blues age.

She hates the cheapness of plastic and calls Bakelite its superior,

telling us the polka dots mean it’s good quality and lasting.

An infirm crowd, the Bakelite-addicted,

peopling the adult education center, milling around

in their widowhood and phobias — the latter part of animate life.

Inside, they sit so still so senseless

the motion-detecting lights turn off.

One night, a disembodied hand had come through the door, reaching

for the box of course evaluations. Lights on.

Lights Off.

                   Enough Hamletting.

                   Let’s just pick a cabin where everything runs on fire —

                   Couch, TV, Dresser.

                                       But in dreams you want grounding.

                                       A setting. You want to tie

every desert you’ve seen to another and know water

is the same water everywhere.

I don’t really like this coherence and connection.

The witch won’t either.

She’ll get her powers back, in tens. But if I

were to say to you, my fellow citizens,

that we shall send to the moon a giant rocket on an untried mission,

and return it safely, causing heat half the temperature of the sun,

and do all this, and do it right, and do it first —

then we must be bold.

                   Then the rings of light around the county library might be measured

like this: if they remind you of your mother,

the radium dials on every clock will last through morning.

                   Then you can even unwind the witch.

She will diminish — once warm and pulsating beside you,

now mechanical, made of metal alloys,

some of which have not yet been invented.

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