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Words in Dreams

by Sandra McPherson

A horse
            goes clock clock
on the green tiles.
press my forearm:
            rolltop chrysanthemums . . .
What a kindness
            of the old library mind
to open its books
            and let me borrow
all night.
           Another time rougher,
the librarian
           cuffs me to stay awake
as long as it takes
           to hush the hearsay
of the dark.
           I’m whipped with a bit of grapevine.
When I again lie back
           my hair is cold
against my neck.
           Slept-on messages have their fevers.
Don’t go away don’t go away
           plain      aloud     unwritten.
In time they release the bough of my drowse,
           set out in freedom,
slip past my eyes.
           That’s why words in dreams
need binding,
           folding in covers,
why they pine for cloth, tree, leather.
           Authors make books out of insomnia.
Pamphleteers sleep best.
           Me?  A few clear pages.
No, less.  Two lines.  And I believe in them:
           Illegal sun vote,
walnut loon.


Sandra McPherson’s most recent book is Expectation Days (Illinois, 2007).  Her small poetry press, Swan Scythe, is reviving this year under the management of James DenBoer.  She recently retired after twenty-three years of teaching at the University of California at Davis. (9/2010)

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