In this dream, am no she created before Eve, no thief of men’s seed or trance, no stalker,
no bad woman, no hungry woman, no seducer, no sad person, no bored mare in her vale,
no man. I see. And before these steps, all and as far as an eye can hold is charred
and remnant of, is desert where a green Hawaiian land was, is dark where light rippled.
Is utter with what has burned and galed and chilled and what is left: a petrified forest of,
a tortured shape, was another shape, before. Am seer, and walking. Is there one
complete and old and untouched stained house there, red wooden with thin banister,
thin porch? On a swing is the old, is the Johnny of the vale who died long ago who would
pray for me. In it are women with no names who welcome me as old beloved, I know
their eyes. In this distance of a valley shattered, that old man shuffles in like an actor, on
cue, and I am blessed and prayed for: my storm, my seeing. Dreamed into sitting down
in an ill lit room, its round table, to white bread, sour jam, and bitter tea.
No one will mention the blackened land, it is dark and dry, and that they are blind, and we
—are blind. We are in a complete house, standing wooden house that did not burn. All
day the gale dream returns, as though these remnants do not want me to forget them: red
house, its shuffle, its ghosts, its dregs who want me—to be seen. Am seer. I see. It was
a different day—where country stopped—there were houses with the sleeping bodies
curled within them. It was an island town on a razor’s rim—the hour before
light’s hour—empty, and arms wide with none and nothing to hold but sleep, the very
quiet storm. I see. Outside that town was one road to shoreline, there the patient men
with poles, long lines, and some with nets, held flash-lights to volcanic reefs. Blue fins,
and parrotfish. There was no moon, and no cock had divided light from night yet.
When it did, I would be mountainside, above, watching like a fisherman, for ancestors,
and wind. Like a roused sea, a descending flock of wings would come, their music must
be locusts, what other storm, what else would speak so biblically? I know men of little faith
and women who lose their girlhood trust in that parent god who has no harm in his heart.
There is harm. There is harm. I know the souls who mock all prayer, its invention. Its
terrible optimism. And I know one old woman who knows only miracles. Only sight for
the blind, steps for the lame. When she dies I want her pillow to sleep on while the wind
and the faithless converse with locusts. I want her lullaby, while I am forced longer at the
fire and at the daily storm, its useless windows cracking glass. The windhover, that
priest, knew. Everything is a miracle, unseen. Brew the tea.
“Brewing Tea” is from But a Passage in Wilderness (The Sheep Meadow Press, 2007).