You raise your hand to shield your eyes
from the mycelian burn of living,
the path of your inarticulate want
running through the field from bed to bath.
You dreamt that you were two people,
and now you’re nothing but an empty house,
run-down, ramshackle, not even haunted.
Your mother told you once not to worry,
she said life was like going to the zoo,
but the truth is we’re mostly empty space
and whenever you left the house
the folded animals were inside sleeping.
And then there’s the accident of being
here, shielding your eyes from morning’s
hostile glare. Is it that you can’t see
because you don’t want to, or because
the face inside your face was left
planted deep in the night’s fertile soil?
Lower your hand. Do what you can
to create your city. Feed it. Draw
your line. Dig your posts and fence it in.
It’s so easy to lose track of things, and
you’re in this shape for such a short time.
My process for writing poems generally consists of sitting for an hour, dreaming myself into the space where I can attempt to write. Quieting my mind. Letting go of distractions. The next hour is spent writing down words, phrases and images that come to mind. They don’t have to relate. I don’t censor my mind. At some point, I’ll start to notice patterns, themes. It’s then I know that it’s time to write the poem, which can take another hour or two for that first draft. In this case, though, the poem began with a dream that I was indeed two separate people wandering an empty haunted house. So, I had a couple images to start with. I knew that somehow they would play into the themes and extended imagery of the poem. The choice of second person felt right. I’m not sure why. I trust my instincts when I write poetry. I started with an image of the narrator (the “you”) needing to shield himself from the vision he’s seen in the dream, to hide from it. In this way, the poem starts from a point of disassociation or disconnection, the narrator disassociated from himself. The movement in the poem then is toward some sort of acceptance and connection with that vision and with that self, an attempt to turn that haunted, empty house of the self in the dream into something the narrator creates, something he can control, at least for a brief time. As the poem posits at the end, we are constantly changing, shifting. So whatever control we think we have is illusory.