Speaking of Dreams ~ Scott Cairns

A bad idea, generally, to discuss

one’s dreams, laden as they are with revelation

which even one’s dullest acquaintances surely

recognize long before the dreamer does.

Still, I did have one–a dream, one in which I died,

and violently.  Well, two dreams, both violent.

In the first, I was driving through St. Louis,

following my brother who lived there at the time.

He was in his Ford, I in my green Volkswagen.

We waited for a light to change, and while we waited

I chanced to look off to my left, to where the Mobil

filling station lay still as in a dream.  I saw

the man with the gun taking money from the drawer

inside a luminous office.  I saw him shoot

the boy whose dark, greased hands reached out.  I saw him fall

out of being human-he was a bag of leaves then, the kind you fill

full as you can then put out for sanitation crews.

Well, this one wasn’t tied right and, when it tipped, it poured

a wash of leaves across the floor.  And then the gunman

looked up at me.  He must have known what I had seen.

He raised his gun as I glanced one more time ahead.

The light turned green.  I waved my brother on.  I heard

the window roar against my ear, and I noticed,

as I died, how things seemed oddly promising.

Unlikely as that one looks from here, the second

dream appears more troubling still.  Apocalyptic,

even–just the worst kind of revelation, the kind

that may let you imagine you’ve got this dreamer

pegged as one of those whose Christianity needs

a host of burning sinners in a burning lake

in order to find any acceptable pleasure

in paradise.  Well, it wasn’t like that.  Not at all.

I cleared the ridge-top just in time to meet the flash,

a brilliance racing from the east; and here again

I felt myself lean toward it as if willing, even

though the fire, irresistible, would soon arrive.

 (first published Fall 1996)