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Nightmares Next To My Lover

Dreamed before 1983 by Kathleen Spivack

Having these dreams
is like writing underwater
while eating my own
raw gobbet heart.

Somewhere a woman wakes;
she stirs from sleep
pushing the water ahead of her
into a green glass outward stare.

She pushes against you
with tviining breast-stroke arms;
her hair floats behind,
she turns up blank eyes,

drowning, somnabulist.
She opens her mouth to scream
but water fills her mouth;
she chokes back her wishes;

this water is heavier than air.
She thrashes in her aquarium
making fishy noises; no
and even, sometimes, yes,

mute swimmer
in her underwater world
of sea anemones and secret
victim dreams, her scissoring body.


While she doesn't address this poem specifically, about her work in general Spivack says:

In many of the poems, man and woman lie down together on a flat white surface. And then they go at it! They dream like mad, each in a separate sleep-capsule. Often they are quite miserable, for their simultaneous dreams are of their individual isolation. Waking only intensifies this condition. For men and women frequently realize they are dreaming next to the wrong person.

In a few of the dream poems, girls dream of their mothers, painters dream in color, finally, and wake to become landscape painters, and children dream of happiness. Men and women, too, dream of the Elysian fields, but they cannot bridge the distance between then, in bed.

This sounds very mature, sober, Freudian--his Reality Principle. But the World Dream Bank's list of shared and telepathic dreams, now hundreds long, shows that Freud was wrong. We aren't that isolated in our dreams! Indeed, most societies before us assumed dreams weren't always private. Primitive, immature, magical thinking--and, it turns out, correct.

Shared dreaming won't help if you're "next to the wrong person", of course. But still.

--Chris Wayan

SOURCE: Dreamworks: an Interdisciplinary Quarterly (v.3, no.2, 1983, p.135-6)

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