Childhood Dreams

Recreating (and advancing) pk’s censored domains: & / Personal / Stories / Themes / Dreams /
@ K. 2003 01 25

I start with two from childhood. Before beginning the first line I confess that I anticipate that some revision will be called for: not to lie, but to tell it truthfully.

But another word on memory: mine. Back when I gave poetry readings, I wonder how many in the coffee house noticed that when reading I seldom referred to the text. I chose poems that I knew. I never deliberately memorized them. I just found that if I read them carefully, more than once, I knew it: cold.

Other poetry readers begged me to reread: so they could pay closer attention to my pacing and imitate me in their own reading of the same text. Nope. Once is enough. (Mozart said always leave them wanting more.)

The other day I demonstrated this ability for some friends by reeling off the first hundred lines or so of Browning’s Pied Piper, a poem I have not heard or read since the seventh grade: where it was read aloud in the class a couple of times. By time three I was correcting the girl who’d been chosen as narrator to read it aloud.

But poetry, being constructed as a form of mnemonic, doesn’t count as much as the following. I’ve heard it said that people don’t really remember things from long ago that they think they remember: they’re remembering other’s narrations of the same story. Well, in my case, my mother, my sister, would tell the story from my childhood and I’d say, No, the light source for that picture show in the basement when I was two was not a flashlight but me cranking the key on some toy tank I had that made sparks. And my sister, says, “Uh, yeah, I guess that’s right.”

People tell me I’m mistaken, my mother told me I was mistaken, but I remember lying on my back in a bassinette before I was able to sit up. Helpless on my back is my earliest memory. No one told me: the memory is mine.
[2016 03 01 Speaking of being helpless on my back I also remember the first time I found myself unable to put my big toe in my mouth: body changes beyond our control.]

Dream 1 This one is the earliest dream I remember. I’m sure is (my transform of) one common enough among children: the dream of being abandoned, left behind.
I must have been at least three: ’cause that’s when we moved to Rockville Centre and I would have seen the LIRR, which in those days had no caboose but a folding gate between the rear door of the last car and the tracks speeding behind below.
My mother and sister are on the train, in the last car, standing behind the gate, waving: as I’d failed to get aboard in time. The train pulls away and I run after it, stumbling over the cross ties.
Dream 2 I think this one was influenced by the graphics in my mother’s Book of the Month Club recommendation: the dust jacket on Tolstoy’s War and Peace (or perhaps some other book) showed a long line of soldiers in retreat. That would have been Napoleon’s army. Perhaps more than one dust jacket is involved. There may have been another with a desert scene.
My sister and I stand on a long line in tinted sepia. Bit by bit we advance closer to the executioner with his axe and chopping block. Each person lays his head on the block. Chop, and the head falls into a woven basket. Body trunks with limp limbs are strewn everywhere on the desert seeping blood and fluids from the severed necks. Laborers carry away the baskets full of severed heads. Beth and I hold hands and comfort each other. She goes first. I follow.
My head falls to the basket and bumps hers. Both fall from the basket and roll. As our heads roll, the landscape changes: from flat to a slope. The slope steepens. Grass covers the slope. Sepia becomes Technicolor. Our heads pick up momentum as we roll down a hill, coming to rest at the verge of a pool of clear water, fresh water bubbling into it down a rocky rill. The pool is surrounded by a variety of lush vegetation. It’s moist, cool, lush.
My head says, “Don’t worry, Beth. It’s just a dream.”
We are at peace.
Stories by Age by Theme by Others

About pk

Seems to me that some modicum of honesty is requisite to intelligence. If we look in the mirror and see not kleptocrats but Christians, we’re still in the same old trouble.
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