Swarm — A Dream

 

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“Swarm” — C.Birde, 10/17

 

Side by side that night, we slept and dreamed our separate dreams.

 

Or so it seemed.

 

I, in a derelict house that leaned within its footings, climbed a crooked staircase through a murk of dark. Hand trailing the banister’s time-gnawed and pitted wood, I reached the slanted landing and moved, as if down a throat, through railroaded rooms that lead one into another. Faded carpets underfoot, their colored patterns lost to time and wear. The house felt empty – of soul and memory – and the walls held little on their broken plaster planes beyond strips and tears of antique floral papers. Three windows in that final claustrophobic room held only night – far darker for its starless aspect – and here, carpet and floorboards both peeled and fell away to reveal a swollen bulge beneath. The sides sloped gently upward to a hole defined by the floorboards’ split and broken edges, and from this broke-toothed fissure emerged a skittering, chittering fury of insects. Mandibled and multi-legged, their pale, foot-long, segmented bodies writhed in and out of that misplaced hole in chaotic, threatening fashion. Near at hand, I found a smooth, stout branch and thrust its gnarled end into that revolting hive. I heard the crunch and squish of squashed, insectoid bodies, felt my stomach heave. But the swarm did not decrease. I knew I’d earned the creatures’ wrath when, with relief, I woke.

 

Unbeknownst to me, he, too, in his sleep dreamed. Of a house, filled less with dark than light, its angles meeting square and right. And he – downstairs, not up – perceived in the sweep of ceiling overhead a bulge in that smooth space, seemingly benign. A squat stalactite of sloped sides, its peak crowned in a dark, hollow depression from which moved to and fro a collective of insects, sleek bodied with wings of pale and iridescent green pressed to the subtle gleam of their hardened carapaces. Though he craned his neck to discern the meaning of their movements, he felt no threat, but curiosity.

 

Side by side that night, we slept and dreamed our separate dreams.

 

Or so it seemed.

 

— C.Birde, 10/17

 

 

Heart-in-Hand — A Poem

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“Blackpoll Warbler” — L.Gloshinski/C.Birde, 10/17

 

Hearbeat

in cupped hands,

rapid as thought,

as flight.

Curl and prick

of yellow toes

against my palm.

An insubstantial weight,

scant as warbled light.

Years unravel,

molt,

a drift of feathers –

yellow, olive, white.

Unclasp my fingers’

cage and —

like a dream,

a song —

my heart has gone,

the bird has flown.

My hands’ hollow

refills with stirred air

and a moment

passed.

Overwhelmed,

I stand –

a-weep,

a-stir,

a-flutter.

Newly fledged,

remade

in

delight.

 

— C.Birde, 10/17

 

Boxed In — A Dream

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“Boxed in” — C.Birde, 10/17

 

It is his job.

He is hired to get close to people, to win their trust, put them at ease. But it hurts. Hurts to witness. The casual touch – his hand brushing her shoulder, placed at the small of her back; his smile – a brightening of the eye, a flush of skin – returned.

Turn away. Let them dine on candlelight and wine. Let soft light travel over turned silverware, along the rims of glasses raised and tipped; down her long neck, the sweep of her collar bones. He does not love her. But it hurts.

It hurts.

Turn away. Leave them. Steal off, down the length of hall. Recede into shadow, into self. Reach the door, that worn and featureless divide. Twist the well-burnished knob. Enter. Lean against the closed door, spine to wood. Survey the room, unseeing.

A Spartan space. Bare wood floors. Neatly made bed, spread with white needlepoint cover. Aged, wooden dresser. One square curtainless window, set too high in the wall opposite the door. Unrestricted moonlight paints the floor – four squares of parted light.

Push off the door. Cross to the room’s center. Drop to knees. Insert fingers along the floorboards’ seams, and peel. Peel them up and away, layer after layer. Narrow planks curl backward upon themselves, until they reveal their secret – the space below; the neat cardboard box within.

Grip the floor’s edges. Place one foot down, inside, then the other. Lower knees, hips, ribs, shoulders. Slip into that square hollow. Curl up in the dark, knees to chin, and pull the floorboards closed, back into place.

Later – later – hear the doorknob rattle, the squeak and scrape of hinges. Hear him call. The pain in his voice — the quavering upswing. His heels pace circles against the floorboards above. Back and forth. Round and round. Calling.

Listen.

Sigh.

Sleep.

 

— C.Birde, 10/17