Overcome this morning as I wake. My mouth is numb and asleep. It is Halloween. I am waking up to Halloween. My dreams last night were in black-and-white: the dust bowl, the prairie, the dead as they were when they were alive traveling to the frontier of the US in wagons stocked so high that the top of the piles of their belongings waved and bent in the wind. They had stopped, arrived at the place of our new homestead on a hard dry ground that Jesus himself could not have sown. The children were the first to break the stillness of their parents’ shock and disorientation at the barren world of their new home. They chased each other while the adults argued about whether they’d taken a wrong turn. I know this from the photos I flipped through in a vintage flea market on the same spot in the same room where they’d argued, 200 years before as a village the merits of staying to build a dirt town or moving on, which was impossible any way you looked at it with all the supplies they were hauling. The lucky ones had not more than the ribbons on their bonnets, and even those were tucked away under the crowns of their hats along with every tendril and loop of their hair. They would keep going until they reached the Pacific. They are free as birds and stupid as them too, the children said. I know this because in the dream I’m taking pictures with a cardboard camera that I’d kept from a wedding reception, and never used, for guests to take polaroids for the bride and groom of their reception party. Bumping along in one of the few remaining wagons, I got the tour of the town from the ghost of a man as he was a week after arriving and pondering where the streets should go, how big the town square should be and who would one day, by virtue of having been the only one to really think this through, become the mayor. And sheriff, although he was unsuited to that job as a thoughtful man, old, and baffled by criminal behavior. He would point out into the scruffy no-mans land and dirt streets and dry buildings would appear in my plastic viewfinder: Main Street, grim storefronts, carts and horses and a few Flivvers, a stone bank with grand columns. Outside my camera, the people were standing around stacks of wood trim, baseboards, and other architectural salvage. They think they will make homes with it.
Because this is a dream, I got here by missing an exit off the highway and pausing to enter a convenience store for a drink before doubling back. I met a man who got there on horseback. He looked at me and I felt that heat of his complete acceptance of me and my sexual need. Somehow I ended up riding across the land on a horse. But as he rode next to me, the lush hills turned dry, there were fewer apples. And then he disappeared in the crowd of dead pioneers unloading brass beds from their carts and waiting in line around heaps of bed slats and base boards to select their own. Outside the crowd, a very small and dirty child watched them. I spun and danced for her. My feet would not return to the ground and so my dance made no sense to her. I was not able to explain, and I believe she thought I meant to fly away from her and make her watch.


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