The Cacophony of Dreams

Not for me a garden of dreams. Instead mine rip into my delicate brain sac, tear its membranes as though it were a placenta. These dreams, after a decade of being knocked out by heavy duty sedatives, anti-psychotics, basically an arsenal of lethal, at times, tempting, alluring, let’s just do me in drugs.

Now dreams come unbidden, war inside me, singe my brain cave with haunting pictographs as I go off my drugs, bit by, after finally reaching a plateau of peace following years of tumultuous madness that left me looking like a concentration camp detainee. My mind was my concentration camp, the tortures exquisitely executed with a tour de force I’ve not yet been able to capture in words.

Dreams drain me, create a chaotic cacophony. What was muted, gagged, now erupts, each explosive kernel a slice of being. Last night, I was in a war-torn country with the daughter I never had, impoverished, homeless, starving. We ate charred pieces of burlap, but we were the only victims in our exiled exodus, those we came across were shored up with food, drink, shelter. We even tried to seek out a once upon a time lover—my daughter’s father?—but, of course, he was not to be found. Desperately we clung to each other, two writhing figures.

What raw comfort can I take after such a Boschian nightmare? This morning, as is my custom, I walked by the sea, nearly climbed into its briny womb so I could re-emerge as a woman no longer embattled. Tiny, fingertip-size shells were miniature bassinets. It is spring in this paradise lost I call home. So much burgeoning in the buds—their red-veined like blood vessels look like they might burst and the knock out blossoms nearly knock me off my feet.

Desolate dreams, as well, of my ex-husband who stands as a ghost in an army of ghosts in the winter cornfield bordering the cemetery of my dead—Mother, Father, Grandfather, both Grandmothers—in the bleak, nearly reptilian landscape of my grotesque childhood.

In one, I’m doomed to withering silence, my body a hollow stalk or a whistle carved out of bone through which seethes a deathly dirge. I am in a crowd, but no one sees me. I am a remarkable absence, fracturing, splitting like a strand of my own hair, soul bound in mummy wrappings.

Only once a dream of love with a man I might come to love. The universe reduced to two in my high iron bed in the glow of firelight though there wass no fire. Perhaps it was the tumbledown flames singing on black wicks, wicks that may be tiny crucifixes.

Somehow I have been butchered into being. All my life, knives have been flying toward me, but now in this rash spring rubbing me with its rare beauties, there comes the sound of wind-whipping wings. Dreams strip search me, hunting for weapons, but I have none and the drugs I once used to threaten to take my life away are being flushed down the toilet, one by one. My med tray is no longer a bizarre Nativity calendar with nuggets of poison behind its shiny blue doors.

I cannot let these dreams, attacking like Hitchcock’s birds, destroy me. Now is the time to build up more than break down and breaking down was what I had so glamorously mastered, the way Bishop mastered loss. My dreams are churning currents trying to pull me back under, this time for good.

Each morning I shudder awake as early as 5:00 a.m. There in the pitch dark, dawn is just a mirage, as distant as what could be my breech birth into a more peaceable kingdom. Again and again, my dreams drag me into a jungle of beasts, a surreal jungle of surreal beasts that create a skewed narrative that skewers me.

I must shake off these devilish mini-dramas, continue on in my era of resurrections, leave them behind me as I creep, crawl, slither out of that beastly jungle that houses what was my slaughtered consciousness. In my wake, not a trail of breadcrumbs, but of pills. Each grows mildewed in ruined dew, sinks like a mushroom into black earth.

Slowly I lift off all fours, shake off a torrent of tears the way a dog shakes off the wetness of the sea. I will rise to my feet, take note of a sky the color of melted ivory, curlicues of light spiraling down through it, let the dregs of my cacophonous dreams drain away, listen to the world’s music, come to be and then stride on as the pages of my days turn like Whitman’s leaves of grass.

Filed under: Elizabeth Kirschner, Prose