dreams and the edge of knowing

I had a dream, last night or maybe it was the night before, where I went to write something on my hand, because I had a pen (of course I had a pen, even in my dreams) but I didn’t have any paper. I needed to remember something important.

There was already something written on my left hand, in a different color ink — black, I think, when the pen was blue. The writing was on the back as well as the palm, with just enough space to cramp in my thoughts. (That’s not right: cram in my thoughts.)

I wrote what I wanted to remember but today I look at my hand and there is only the blank canvas of my skin. It could not have been important after all, this thing I thought I needed to remember.

I occasionally have other dreams where I retain some awareness I am inhabiting a dream world distinct from the waking world. In one dream years ago I pinched myself to make sure I wasn’t dreaming and in the dream I didn’t wake up, so I thought it was real. That’s my only memory of that dream: that I convinced myself I wasn’t dreaming.

In another dream, something so funny happened that by laughing I woke myself up. I have also woken up smiling, or crying, or calling out for a dog who sometimes I see alive in dreams.

On a break from college I woke up startled in the late afternoon and mistook the red sunlight streaming into my window as the blast from one of the nuclear bombs that were exploding across the Ohio Valley.

And I have dreams like this recent one. In such dreams I am thinking that I need to remember a poem or an idea, so that I can carry it out from the dream world, to examine it in the light of day.


No one understands why we need to sleep and no one understands why we need to dream. Freud and Jung and various religions? Really, no one knows.

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