by Laura Dixon
It is the only one that recurs.
When I turn away from you in bed, I am probably having this dream:
you’re playing solitaire in the aisle of the city bus, and nobody else has hands.
An image of lonely childhood rolling through Austin.
There are feet all around, but everyone’s arms are lopped at the wrist, and I’m afraid
to look at mine. No one can pull the cord to request a stop.
Meanwhile you’re playing cards, linking chains of black-red-black-red-black.
And I’m thinking: Why don’t you use the Queen of Diamonds, why pass her over
in the deck each time? You’re running out of moves.
I can hardly stand the slap-slap-slap, the ragged edges of each small pile.
While you sit cross-legged in the aisle, some people sleep in their seats,
and the others stare out their windows in fifty-two different directions.
Just once, you look up at me and smile like this isn’t strange, like it’s all part of the plan.
This is not a dream of solidarity. This is not a dream where everyone claps and understands.
This is the dream where you play solitaire with the world’s last pair of hands.
In every way that matters you were
a library with an unlocked door,
a covered bridge, a lion tamer,
a barrel of acorns, a dragon kite. I tried
out feathers, bedrock, orchids, a sail,
a streetlight: all so wrong. You know?
I’m trying, too late, to hold you, to get this
right. Just whirling in your words,
astonished at your flight. I feel
like an igloo, a silver bowl.
I feel like I should call you
on a tin-can phone.
you are air, leaves, an emerald
lost in the springtime grass,
quicksand, an echo, a birthday wish,
a fortune cookie, unleavened dough,
a half-built temple, an iris, a fish,
a last light kiss through an open window
as the car begins to roll. So
I’ll let you go: a bottled message, always
floating, probing some distant coast.
Never a stone. Never
a bottled ship.
No shadows on the gravel road. No sad shapes
to dissipate like water drawn on pavement.
For a while, I perched at the edge of the woods
on a fallen birch tree whose trunk had split straight through,
a few feet off the ground. I couldn’t find a reason.
Not dead yet, but dying. Half its leaves already dry.
There were buttercups and Queen Anne’s lace in the roadside ditch,
and fireweed, flaming despite the shade. I rose. I sighed.
I peeled off a section of bark the length of my arm
and rolled it into a narrow scroll, smooth and almost white.
Fine, I thought. I’ll start over.
Laura Dixon has an MFA in poetry from the Michener Center for Writers at UT Austin, where she also served as Associate Editor of Bat City Review. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Notre Dame Review, RHINO, Georgetown Review, Painted Bride Quarterly, and elsewhere.