Gray Planes — A Dream

Black and white gray scale scene of the sea and sky and beach, a solitary figure silhouetted on the left.
“Gray Planes” — C.Birde, 11/20

All is gray…

Above, beneath, beyond…

Three horizontal planes

of neutral gray overlaid

one against another…

Land and sky and sea…

Blurred seams erased.

Stand here with me…

The shale, a coarse voice

beneath our feet…

The air a sigh…

Nearing our step,

the lapping edge of foam-

laced, shapeshifting sea.

(Pay that element’s

inconstant promise

little heed.)

Look instead beyond…

Into the distance…

There

Gesture strokes the air…

A scratch of darkness

within that vast expanse…

No other form to speak

of its relative dimensions…

Undeterred,

it comes,

it grows.

A bird?

Eagle, Albatross, or Tern…

Can you discern its form?

Tell me what you see…

Patience,

patience

Its shape defines slowly…

Slope of yellow beak…

Compact body,

smooth and white

Languid wings –

gray-stroked, stretched wide –

gently stir the space it occupies.

A gull —

Free , unfettered…

Clear-eyed perspective…

Visitant of the in-betweens.

Above the shore it hovers…

Wings beating noiselessly…

Now, its form in white neon light

outlined…

A stroke of gleaming bright,

it dives and thrusts —

into susurrating shale —

its beak,

plucks out some secret

nestled there…

Departs.

Returns

to those very planes of gray

from which

it came.

— C.Birde, 11/20

Epic — A Dream

Stylized photograph of a Beech Tree, as if it were a drawing.
“Beech Tree” — C.Birde, 11/20

Never mind how we got here… The headlong, hell-bent, hair-raising rush… The RV careening over narrow dirt roads, its windscreen blacked out… He – at the wheel, navigating as if by sonar, by radar; by the tiny icon moving across ten inches of computer screen, charging ever closer to the engulfing sea…

Never mind that we shot past that liminality, metaphorically blindfolded, and landed – not in saltwater embrace, but within a Renaissance palace, within a walled fort on a shadow-clad hill… That somehow, we had traversed the creases of time and space and geography and sped into the deep past… That, with equal surreality, he now guides the invisible, behemoth RV through ornately carved hallways and corridors draped in rich colors, through the two-story central room toward the narrow galley kitchen… That he maneuvers the vehicle deftly past the assembled crowd and strikes not a soul…

Never mind the gentle cascade of enveloping sound… The chanting female voice that reverberates like the sea… A soft, beautiful, lapping, echo… An encircling song…

Never mind that I now occupy a narrow galley kitchen… And slowly, carefully dismantle – with the aid of a man unknown, unfamiliar – a small cube refrigerator… Remove shelving, pull out wire racks, peel back the refrigerator’s rear wall, and ultimately uncover a crude exit…

Never mind that the woman’s melodious voice is suddenly replaced by a man’s… The chieftain; the king speaks, is speaking… Everyone drops to their knees, bows heads to listen… All except the young girl beside, who sings and chatters without interruption… Who plays with a kitten, despite serious looks bent upon her… Despite raised fingers and hisses and hushes… The chieftain’s daughter will do as she pleases…

No. Never mind that. Dismiss it from your mind. All of it.

Slip with me, instead, down the narrow kitchen, past the humbled crowd… Past the submissive collective… Follow me, to the left, beyond this partition wall… Into this hidden, hallway alcove… To the heavy wooden door, here, at the hall’s end… See how the light bends through its many beveled panes of glass? See how the hills and village beyond are gently refracted?

But look again… Look again, to the middle ground – how could anyone miss it? How did I? The tree… An enormous tree, of untold antiquity. Its trunk and main boughs, symmetrical to left and right, while smaller limbs branch off in lively directions. And there… Do you see? Suspended above the tree’s crown, the great amber prism that throbs with light? Are you stunned? Near speechless? As I am? Do you feel the need – the driving, overwhelming, urgent need – to touch the tree? To lay hands upon it? Press palms to its deep-grooved bark until vascular cambium bites flesh?

And did you see her? The woman flaking our right side, here at the door? Or was your gaze, too, pulled beyond her, swept past her, as was mine? Pay her no heed. Disregard her cryptic remarks regarding my desire… I am not Matilda, Melinda, Meridan. I am no tear-scryer.

Ahh… The door swings, opens… The tree extends a long, uncoiling limb… Holds, in the cup of its twiggy branches, a cut crystal sphere… Amber… Radiant… Roughly the size of a toddler’s head…  Withdraws the same, in enticing fashion, when I reach to touch it…

Are you still here? Do you yet stand beside me, shoulder to my shoulder, toes also curled over the threshold’s edge, two stories up the palace’s stone walls?  Does the tree fill your vision, as well? Do you see, as it questions me, as it drops the mussel shells into my open palms, each ridged, pearly concavity inscribed with a query? Do you hear my responses, or do I answer within the frame of my own mind as the great tree confirms my beliefs?

Never mind. Never mind. Raise your hands, as I do… Palms before heart, outward facing, thumbs touching… Lift the hands, up, up, before the face, then out and down in circular motion…  Draw palms to naval, thumbs reconnected… Lift the hands up again before the heart. Bless the tree. Bless all its offspring. Bless all that it shelters.

Bless us all.

— C.Birde, 11/20

Inverted Blue — A Dream

Blue sphere.
“Blue” — C.Birde, 11/20

Beneath the archway entrance to “Suite Seven”, we meet – she & I.

Guide, in royal purple robes that sweep the bisque-pink floor.

Follow Her through open airy room, up shallow steps, outdoors,

where the galleried stone patio – in artful feat of craftsmanship –

floats above a rippling valley of plush & foliaged green.

She never speaks; smiles & leads to He who wears the cobalt blue

of heaven & instructs me in Inversion.

“Hands here; feet here;

hips & tailbone high;

relax the head & neck.”

Ah…warmth of sun-soaked slates beneath my palms, my soles;

spacious planes of earth & sky agreeably reversed.

Together, He & She delineate my form, glide shrewd hands along

elongated muscles, stacked bones; correct awkward tilts & angles,

structure & position, until all is in alignment, agreement.

She steps back, recedes, Her hands two secrets folded deep within

flared purple sleeves.

He remains, moves His flattened palms in slip-skin circular motion,

between my shoulder blades; base of neck; kneads trapezius;

works flesh & muscle like soft clay; fashions, in their place, a shallow,

gently rimmed concavity.

Utterly painless.

Utter somatic re-shaping, re-formation.

He places there, in that space, the sphere – large, heavy as a bowling ball

& as smoothly polished; blue as His robes;

places that unanticipated & arcane globe in the new-formed bodily basin

of upper back, where it rests – veritable onus, orbicular albatross –

against the occipital ridge at the nape of my neck.

“Don’t move, don’t move…”

His words resound like hollow wind in ocean cave.

“Maintain the Inversion.

Do not lose the ball.

Do not let it roll free

to crush your hands,

your skull.”

The sphere, so deeply blue, so heavy & slipping…slipping & shifting…

shifting & sliding…inching ever forward over & toward my right ear.

Each time, they catch it – He & She.

With pointed re-instruction, He returns it, places it in its corporeal nest.

Again & again & again

Cannot endure. Was not built for this. Cannot maintain this shape.

Feel the cry forming, deep within – release me release me release me…

Let it

fall.

— C.Birde, 11/20

A Question of Shadows — A Dream

“A Question of Shadows” — C.Birde, 10/20

They stand — all four of them — in a line;

shoulder to shoulder;

on green-grass sward in fading sunlight;

facing me

No instruments in hand –

neither mandolin nor fiddle nor cello;

no guitar, no bass, no banjo…

Empty hands clasped together before them,

they stand — all four of them — in a line;

shoulder to shoulder;

on a green-grass sward in fading sunlight;

facing me

Or is it a photo?

An antique square snapshot,

grown milky with age,

colors evaporating into a wriggle-edged white border

that frames them,

those four young men?

The lighting is wrong, the shadows off…

A dark circle pools at their feet,

conforming to no fixed source, natural or otherwise,

while simultaneously,

their cast shadows stretch from them,

toward me,

so long and lean and solid,

surely,

I should feel the weight of their touch,

heavy as silence…

— C.Birde, 10/20

Golem — A Dream

“Aster” — C.Birde, 9/20

When

earth trembles &

that mantle of unmown grass –

lush &

green &

threaded through

with a purple fringe of wild asters –

separates from the soil of its making

to heave itself up up upright

on hindquarters of loam;

When

that vaguely humanoid shape,

soft-rubbed of keen features,

lurches with thick arms raised & sifting soil

to grope with blind,

blunted,

outstretched hands

like some unfathomably old

newly born golem of earth;

and When,

in umber-and-green-and-purple tide,

the shaken sward returns abruptly

to the soft mud of its recent birth

as if it never was…

Will its voiceless,

mossy,

desperate

roar have penetrated?

or will that thrashing cry have been dismissed

as dream?

— C.Birde, 9/20

Shaken — A Dream

“Broken Cell” — C.Birde, 8/20

Don’t shake it.”

He speaks in distracted manner,

as of one who grasps deep understanding

of such things as cell phones –

broken

that should not rattle & shift within themselves

with shivers of noise in enthralling fashion.

Don’t shake it.

But…

He said nothing of lifting it,

drawing it over lips, teeth, tongue,

feeling that seam incised in its length & sides,

of separating that seam so that gears &

circuitry & delicate inner workings

sift uniformly across the tongue,

crunch between molars, premolars, incisors,

move like coarse sand or grit or powdered glass

past pharynx & larynx

to scrape slowly, finally, at long last

d

o

w

n  

the trachea…

He said nothing of this.

Needless warning.

Uncalled for.

Implicitly

understood.

— C.Birde, 8/20

Depart/ed — A Dream

“Road” — C.Birde, 8/20

As in the way of dreams, two realities –

he has died;

he walks, straight and tall, beside me.

In death, two versions, also –

the one, all six-foot-tall of him rolled on his side

and bent in awkward, fetal curl,

hooked in blue-tinged dark to chirping, electric machinery;

the other, seated on ivory leather couch, in sunlight drenched,

a shotgun gripped, tripod-like, between legs and knees;

his long toes feel and finger the trigger’s curve.

In both cases, one consistency –

he is alone.

And yet,

and yet

Together we walk this long road of soft pale soil

that uncurls toward the huddled town below.

As that unknown hamlet slowly resolves,

he tells me of his death,

his dying;

of the messages he left for her

– the youngest –

to find.

Clues.

Scrawled in small, cramped hand on slips and scraps of paper,

neatly folded into white envelopes to be opened

– one each year –

on his death day’s anniversary.

We walk together, he and I.

I hear his voice — a rasp against my ear —

and the ocean’s waves that break themselves

against gray sea walls.

And, as in the way of dreams,

though separated by time, location, distance,

I see her

– the youngest –

in open room full of soft-lit windows;

see her lean against that same couch of ivory.

Though separated,

I see her finger run beneath an envelope’s flap and

break the seal.

Excitedly, she reads;

while he and I reach the outskirts of that sleepy town.

Here, the air smells of salt and sea.

Here, the wind finds my hair, my cheek.

And here, undeterred, he walks beside me;

but no longer does he

speak.

— C.Birde, 8/20

Lydia — A Dream

“Forest Green” — C.Birde, 7/20

Seven months

since last we met.

Five months since…

Since

Yet even in passing glance,

even at distance –

familiar.

Stature & gait;

wave of dark, curled hair;

eclipse of cheek –

familiar.

The shade of dress alone

speaks of difference –

uncharacteristic green

of emeralds,

of deep woods

thickly forested in memory

& being.

A color that suits you,

becomes you.

But…

Away, you stride,

path cleared of obstacles.

Unshackled.

Freed.

And I –

bumped & jostled

by this noisome,

swallowing

crowd –

though I call out,

though frantically,

I wave,

you neither see nor hear;

continue on your

way.

I missed you.

I miss you.

Seven months

since last we met.

Five months since…

Since

— C.Birde, 7/20