by Steve Gaines

1984… 1995

once…a very long time ago…
in a world more cynical and simple…
where I never fed off the big questions
I met a fellow creature of my world almost every morning…
…a street person
patched together like a rag doll with too many pieces missing
sad looking and unwashed… once a blonde…
once… from a time beyond wishing it back…
a member of the species woman
but the street had used her up
and put an emptiness in her eyes…
shinning through even the early morning darkness
we shared meeting in the street lights…

every morning we had crossed paths
on our way to the day’s indignities
on our way to some job…
mine within the mad walls of academe…
hers looking for one more way to survive…one more day…

then suddenly… last night… in a dream
she returned from that decade past reality… somehow
through a chink in the time space wall of infinity
where a window opened strangely
… in the odd dream darkness
to let me through…
she was there again in all the old shapes…

she wore a suffering not in my lexicon
a sorrow I could not expect to come across
in my own pretty world
and in that dream meeting reminded me
strangely of our one real meeting:

I had discovered one accidental winter day
where she went into hiding…
where she spent her afternoons…
in the public library reading paperbacks…
quietly in a corner
just past the Z’s in the fiction section
she sat there not looking up
reading or dreaming or simply keeping warm
braced against any intrusion from reality
protected in her anonymity… behind the book
lost in the words and other worlds she devoured

she had looked up… before I could turn away
our eyes met…
a spark of vacant recognition
an almost blush of…. what?… regret…?
an expression I could not read

I turned too abruptly back up the aisle
with a sense that I had wondered into some no man’s land
into where the elephants go to die…
a place too private to share
even with a fellow stranger from the morning along 33rd St.

It was the last time we had met…
those ten years ago…
in that lost corner of her security
she had gone away… or found another subject…
in another corner somewhere…
maybe in the oversized art section…
…she had left me alone in the cold mornings
with the future boiling away…
and limping toward fifty…

that uncomfortable relationship came back to me again
this morning in that dream
in a black and white memory… not quite conscious…
not quite asleep

she had been younger that me then… ten years ago
but now… in the dream… she was much older
in spite of my own quantum aging these last few years
in spite of my own brush with mortality
…my own big guess at death one morning in the winter
a while back… in no dream at all:

while a doctor held my heart in his hands
and watched my life through
that same chink in time space
peering through the great hole in my chest
sprouting tubes and wires
full of too many hands
all holding death at the door

and that’s what the dream was about I think

a Bergmanian movie of cold winter images
and dying or not

this woman of the streets… or myself…

a casting of lots in the odd game of life
a lost hope for eternity…
a soft race to the finish line…

I hope she has survived her passage… somewhere
as I continue to survive…

I hope she is still somewhere not just in a dream
not just a flickering picture in my nocturnal memory…
but somewhere reading all the new stuff
fresh off the New York Times best seller list…

I hope we meet again some day…
on a new field of existence…
Where I could show her my own survival…
in all my unpretended imagination and hope…

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.