Hope

He sat next to me on the lawn chairs positioned on the gentle, grassy rise above the lake. The colors took on their richer, darker aspects because of the dusk. They seemed at once more grounded and more magical. I thanked him for having been president. I was surprised by the welling up in my throat, clotting the words. The simple meaning I anticipated defied by bodily experience. His eyes welled up, too. He had not intended that he become so indispensable. He was not moved because his ego was touched by my show of emotion, instead, he felt a kind of compassion for me, as representative of those whom he had let down. In a flash of expression, a slight down turn of his mouth and dilation of his pupils, I understood his kind of leadership. Success could only mean that once he was finished, the edifice would remain standing, impervious to the absence of his hand, insensible to it’s withdrawal.

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Sunset Norway Point by Alan Bray

He sat slightly above me, slightly behind me, on the hillside. He held my hand as we looked out onto the still water. People played in the waning light. They too, taking on a deeper glow.

As if from nowhere, I did not see them coming and could not tell you from which direction, a group of men ridiculed the former president for holding my hand. They insinuated something untoward. Not because they noticed it, but because they were clustered together and of one mind, and it was a practiced mind. Practiced at attack and slander and vulgarity. Practiced at the en masse conversion of those impulses into reality. Manifestation.

Harbinger by Alan Bray

I felt deeply uncomfortable. The manifestation had been a success, for I felt ashamed. The president, however, he continued to hold my hand, his gaze over the calm, dark, lake water unwavering. I felt my shame run down my arm and pulse through my hand, tempted to pull it from his and abandon the peace. This is how infection spreads, but it stopped there in his palm. He did not tighten his grasp or loosen it. He did not continue in reaction. He just continued. The itching small spasms in my hand, slowly dissipating, perhaps through sweat from my palm. The tightening in my arm that would bend my elbow and pull away, it too relaxed again.

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Spring Thaw by Alan Bray

I stopped looking back at him, but instead adopted his gaze toward the water.

 

 

 

DREAMLIFE: A collection of women’s dreams, recorded and then translated here as part of the Female Background metabolism. A way in, a way out.

You told her you’d built the house.

She was in my old bedroom at the time, in her underwear.  She defended her indefensible actions as a way of confronting me, defense being her preferred mode of aggression. She stood on her hands, leaning her crossed legs on the wall. This disrupted the pile of books that had been stacked tidily, but she didn’t seem to notice. She yelled wildly between her poses and postures, pupils dilated and eyes wide. She waved her arms, hands punctuated by fists, muscles tense and striving. You sat quietly, ill at ease, on the edge of my old bed. She looked franticly back and forth between us, expecting your corroboration. “You never built that house! He did everything!” She introduced your material and technical skills as evidence. She dismissed, based on grounds of invisibility and immateriality, the notions of planning and organization. Also of paint, even if color did not fit perfectly into invisibility, one could get away with arguing against light these days, the political climate being what it is. Paint itself, when applied to a wall, was so thin, so insubstantial.

Her gaze demanded you join in, but you looked away and toward the ground, silent. Would you have to admit you’d lied? I wondered, but quickly decided that would be no revelation, in fact, it was the very premise and mode of attraction. This performance was the engine keeping things running.

I countered, describing the work I’d done, which I immediately regretted, preferring to leave you both to your storytelling, because I realized it was now impervious.

I shouldn’t have been in there anyway, despite it being my childhood home. I backed away and closed the door.

I scribbled notes in the dark with crayons on torn out sheets of lined paper from a spiral notebook, tossing each page to the side once I’d finished and starting fresh. I moved around the circle of children also drawing in the darkened pre-dawn, but then I spoke to my friend. “Go back to your drawings, there’s a code,” she advised. I rifled through the stack of papers I’d left on the floor, trying to remember something I knew I’d just known. “Remember to remember.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

DREAMLIFE: A collection of women’s dreams, recorded and then translated here as part of the Female Background metabolism. A way in, a way out.

 

She told me he was sick by way of explaining his behavior.

He’d been creating drama in his family, particularly with his wife.

I watched the eggs become firm in the pan and I moved them around with the spatula.

by Ravi Zupa

She said he knew his diagnosis and this was his way of being remembered.

The eggs began sticking to the pan, just a papery sliver of gold, I delivered the rest to a dish waiting nearby. I tried to remove what was left in the pan. The brittle sheets flaked dry pieces, nothing to salvage.

DREAMLIFE: A collection of women’s dreams, recorded and then translated here as part of the Female Background metabolism. A way in, a way out.

I was surprised when I caught a glimpse of your new shoes.

LIFE: A collection of women’s dreams, recorded and then translated here as part of the Female Background metabolism. A way in, a way out.

It had been years since I’d seen you and we pretended not to know one another, which I suppose was not truly pretense. I looked over my shoulder as we passed one another and saw the high heel of your pale blue shoe and the shine of your pant cuff. You joined your family at the table where we used to eat. I continued my work purposefully after this sad interruption only now wondering at the deflective sheen of your uncannily foppish attire.

They Tested Your Cortisol Levels

DREAMLIFE: A collection of women’s dreams, recorded and then translated here as part of the Female Background metabolism. A way in, a way out.

They were among the highest ever seen and you wondered that they tested them at all. Machines pulsed. You wished they’d tested something else, measured it. You saw the apparatus, the tubes of green fluid rising and falling like breath, only somehow unnatural. This made you think that not all life was from nature as some would have you believe, or at least it’s origins did not have some state that was more of nature than its current incarnation. You wondered that they did not test instead your intelligence, something they would just as soon deny and certainly not so easily pathologize. You knew, though, that your intellect might be as dangerous to your health. You picked at your skin and considered just how the green fluid measured that level of disturbance that came through. That measured the quality of that final barrier, however illusive, between you and them.

Cleaning

DREAMLIFE: A collection of women’s dreams, recorded and then translated here as part of the Female Background metabolism. A way in, a way out.

We were cleaning up our property which was like a crossroads where you see strangers in a campgrounds. My former neighbor was walking her dog near the perimeter and I wanted to say hello, but I also wanted to not be seen, to just watch her. She was older but still had the same walk and the same hairstyle, the same glasses and smile, walking her dog as she had ten years ago. Once she passes out of my eyesight I get back to the task of cleaning. The yard has not only been untended, it’s has been an active dumpsite of domestic waste.  Drugs and kitchen utensils are the first targets and we are making progress, but there is so much to get rid of and I am sweating now, but I’m not tired of doing it.  I’m still not sure what I’m looking for in this mess. There is an auditorium stage that appears to my far right opposite to where I was watching my neighbor walk her dog. It’s light oak and I’m drawn to it, so I walk towards it. I get closer and I see discarded odds and ends that look like I might save something. There’s a kids’ sand shovel without its bucket. My two year old might use it even though I don’t think it’s hers and when I get closer I grab that shovel, but its covered in dust and something sticky so I immediately put it back down. All of my friends and family are helping me clean up at this stage and it’s going more quickly than I can approve or disapprove of discarding, one by one, the items. So I’m a little worried that they’re just getting rid of things that I want to keep. I reach for and look at a stack of papers on the stage because they have foreign stamps and it looks like I have kept them for a long time. At first I, when I open envelopes, I see they contain letters and they’re letters my ex-husband and I wrote to one another other when I was his college student, but then I look closer. They seem to change. They’re the divorce papers and I wonder if it is all over and if this is actually my MeToo moment and I wonder what’s left for my daughter.

Measured

DREAMLIFE: A collection of women’s dreams, recorded and then translated here as part of the Female Background metabolism. A way in, a way out.

I was with some friends and we were looking at my hair and we were measuring how long my hair was to see if it needed to be cut and when they measured it they told me that it was down to just above my butt and I was very shocked and upset and I told them that it was too long. It was too long for my hair. That it needed to be cut closer to my boobs.

Don’t Touch

DREAMLIFE: A collection of women’s dreams, recorded and then translated here as part of the Female Background metabolism. A way in, a way out.

There was another mother telling me that her son had a condition where his ears dripped lots and lots of wax and my son was trying to play with him and she kept telling him, “Don’t touch his ears.”

“Don’t touch his ears.”

I had a suitcase in a hotel. I couldn’t figure out whether I should take the bus there or drive myself to get the suitcase out of the hotel.

Men’s Cologne

DREAMLIFE: A collection of women’s dreams, recorded and then translated here as part of the Female Background metabolism. A way in, a way out.

I was married to some man who was, I don’t know, powerful in some way and we were having a romantic dinner outside somewhere and all of a sudden   a big , like stretch-limo type of car drove up with this whole militia force, it was an African militia force all African men and the leader came out and my husband handed me over to him as some kind of payment or bribe or something like that and this man was carrying me and I was trying to figure out whether I should to escape or whether I should try to make myself friendly to him so he wouldn’t hurt me, umm, and he was kind of talking about how finally, like, how I was his, stuff like that. I did finally manage to escape and snuck into, umm, a house, and in that house there were two kids who had been kind of left behind by their parents in some way. And I crawled into the bed and there was a little boy, a young boy, I don’t know probably 3 or 4 years old, in the bed, and I told him to be quiet because people were looking for him and we needed to hide, but he didn’t stay very long, he got out of the bed because he had to go to the bathroom; he was peeing his pants.