by Tasha Cotter
I heard a voice in the shadows jabbering away about The Dream.
The voice followed me and the man who’d walked me around the city for two days,
Hand on the small of my back, whispering, You’re lovely.
Then I heard the voice behind a red velvet curtain, telling me to hold onto the dream.
I cleared my throat to mask the sound, then passed the bread basket.
Disoriented, I went looking for the voice because I couldn’t remember
How I was supposed to seem,
Or what I should be laughing at.
The only thing I could remember was how I got hurt
And so I planned ways to not get hurt.
I planned and planned.
Then one day I looked up at the calendar.
I wanted to kill the voice for ruining me.
Each morning I felt the voice nudging me awake.
Was this me holding onto the dream?
Or was the dream holding onto me?
One summer a man and I tried not to step in cracks.
Years later I heard the voice again.
It belonged to a homeless man. Blind, too.
I was alone. My teeth were chattering. It was pelting snow.
I ran up to him, his body my own.
I wanted to shout at the man, at dreams.
I ran up to him so hard I fell on my knees
Scraping them bloody on the hard surface,
My hands tender from catching my own fury:
I recognized myself again,
Just as he was saying dream.