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
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