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It was one of those dreams,

not the sort that unwind

in the soft-edged pastel

of easy sleep,

not even the sweat-soaked

struggling of an embattled nightmare,

This one came in the half-awake,

volitional, they say, because there

is a sense of controlling its shape,

if not its power.

Neither conscious nor imagined,

but experienced the way a room

is sometimes experienced just before

stepping in to it.

"Don't panic" I said calmly,

Again and again. A mantra.

"Don't panic" and something will

certainly come along. "Don't panic"

and you'll be able to handle

even this.

Down in a hole, narrow, dark.

My arms tied by tight cords

Stiffened and tightened with time.

Down in a hole, narrow, dark

Controlling my breathing, knowing

Not to scream. Looking up.

Maybe ten feet. Sky. Air.

A small, round opening, the size of

My body. This hole.

My head tilted back as far

As it would go. Neck aching.

To see the sky. Air.

"Don't panic" Again. Again.

controlled breathing. Down

in a hole. narrow. Dark.

Looking up. Sky. Air. Time.

Someone would surely

come along. Suddenly

The hole is covered. Black.

The air sucked out. Trapped.

No one will ever come.

Scream. Scream. Scream. Scream.

Panic. Too late. Panic. Idiot.

Sitting up straight. Terrified. Awake

I crawl out of bed. Out of the dark

Room where I sleep my day.

Into the daylight. Still trembling.

So angry. So frightened. So shaken.

Not by the hole. The ropes. The fear.

Not by the panic. But by the patience.

The dumb, buried belief that a

little sky, a little hope could

save my life. Fear of panic

was too easy to control.

And that is how an entire life

Passes by. And stunned awake

in daylight, my arms outstretched,

the sky wide. I run like a rabbit

across an open field, far from that

small, warm death-walled

hole. From its sweet and

lethal calm.

(c) Jerry Kraft 2003 All Rights Reserved