Desert Circus in Three Rings
(Dream Poem #2)


(Something of reality.) Sort of Roman carnival, horses harnessed, trapeze

artists, flown down from balconies to plaza where the crowd is.

It seems unwise but no one else appears to mind. In this dream

I am at times your mother and you’re a skinny kid from Palestine,

nine years old at most. (Simple how I go from one obsession

to another, and where they intersect.) Your father kind of ghost,

but always there. We watch the circus in the square,

hitched onto railings, from above. Here you come: you start

to speak but hesitate. (I am your mother but I don’t know what to do

but love.) They would listen but the crowd’s

harassed by falling horses, occupation (Romans

blending in like debutantes deriding how it’s done, but no one’s

that unhappy; it’s just how things are drawn). You say something wise.

I say, Go on. You do; I know it’s you, phrasing little gestures in your way.

I sink to think of how it comes when you are grown.


You are back along the sand hills where your parents started out,

just beside the freeway as they walked toward a dream

version of south. (Like ants they traveled in that monochrome.

I saw you born along the way, all of you in miniature. I was not

your mother any more.) You’ve been back a little while

and you thirst, are dying of it, digging in sand for respite

like a fugitive from birth. The sky is blinding with indecency

and unmasked sun. Someone offers vial of water, silver, small,

but so much drains into your greedy mouth and you can speak

again and stop your burrowing. (Drama kind of mute and fevered

as a dream, and dream it seems to be.) Your dehydrated life

gone full beside a sea, expanse to keep rapt animals at bay,

a simple tree, a garden where it all goes on. But butterfly I’ll be,

raconteur, believer at the rescue of your shattered children,

buried under shelter, thirsty by the poisoned pool.


That music is allowed to register. Someone takes her medicine.

I am someone every time in bed I change position, Greek moon

overhead, but you are beatific next to me again. A level of the day

begins. Somewhere there a body, man and skinny too like you

and dark and dead. Autopsy prepared: list of what they’ll look at

when there’s time and quiet. Wooden box that’s strong enough

for desert fumes and Arab communion, the molding into martyrs

of civilians. Examination left undone. Wretches under stairs

inside the little square of life created by the scissors of my mind.

I wish I knew the song to play, music for the sugary demise

of everything your eyes held fluid by my dream. Your birth,

your boyhood in that misery that spits at us. Early kiss:

the vision is directed to where everything is open day and night.

Something always happens if I keep the channels clear. You say,

There is a subtext. Do you mean the dreams, or what we feel as life?

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