Astronauts say their dreams are like earth dreams
but the people are floating.
Last night when Frances answered her dream phone
I was down under the pastry layers
of sheets and blue throw. Later she asked did I hear it.
No, I had been orbiting myself,
misreading a box in Carol’s kitchen ”cloudless” for cordless.
At night when stars fall on Alabama,
water goes granular and steps back, dreams improve us
with their thick pastels, revisits in tints.
Maybe the astronauts called from their cloudless telephones
with news from Long Distance:
Romans invaded Arabia Felix, Columbus discovered Ohio.
AS MUCH AS
I have taken my chair into the undergrowth.
I sit above the dog long gone.
Around me an oval unfolds, the arcs of my vision
like the simplified maps
of the Middle Ages relying on Scripture,
not on looking for detail,
a world in a circle with no moving parts.
But this is not simple.
It would take days of naming to begin
to announce my visitors,
seeing within seeing like Hooke or Leeuwenhoek .
Said this way with exuberance,
it may fail to resemble any place you know.
But that is the way of attention,
it brings more than expected. And so before me
is the hot and moist, the four
elements and then some, the azalea as the answer
to iodine while spider silks tell the wind
better than the nylon sock or brass chicken on a spit.
And what looked alive was alive, and alive
within alive, and alive within that.
As far as I know. As I can see.
As far back as I remember. As much as I can stand.
When a huge hole has opened over Antarctica.
When census counts a quorum of overpermed evangelists,
ice-haired, seated smugly among Rococo deceits on TV.
When all the little black rivets of Bach have been undone,
and pages like sheet ice fall as the negative weight of lies.
When muscles are flesh and sequenced in orderly rows,
in such even and overwhelming light there are no shadows.
When the abundant black gasses of last night burn off
and there is the capitol with its blistered dome, bear white
against the sky, quartz white, dissolved like weddings.
When dread of a burst pipe lengthens winter into rictus.
When we feed on ill meaning till the atmosphere is eaten.
* * *
Allan Peterson's poems have appeared (or will soon appear) in Gettysburg Review, Marlboro Review, Shenandoah, Green Mountains Review, Birmingham Poetry Review, Blackbird, Typo, Prairie Schooner, Arts & Letters, and Quarterly West. He is the winner of the 2002 Arts & Letters Poetry Prize and a recipien of fellowships from the Florida Arts Council and the National Endowment for the Arts. His books include Anonymous Or and Stars On A Wire, and Small Charities.