Last night I had one of those stress dreams, you know, the kind in which you are at an old job and things aren’t going well, but you aren’t sure why you have to be at this old job reliving this hell . . . I tend to have these dreams when I’m stressed or not feeling well, and I’ve had a horrible migraine for three days, so that’s probably the reason, but that doesn’t lessen the sense of dread with which you awaken after reliving the scenario.

I’m a firm believer that most of the time our dreams are our way of sifting through and eliminating the detritus of our days so that our minds don’t build up with toxic waste. But then there are the unexplainable dreams in which you suddenly remember the algebra class that you haven’t gone to all semester, and today is the final exam (I still have those), or the work ones from jobs you had years ago, or the nightmares in which you are reliving the most painful seconds of your life. Where do those come from?

I used to try to keep a dream journal, but when I would go back and look at the entries, they never made any sense. Every once in a while, I have been able to turn some of my dreams into poems; I have one poem that is an actual dream sequence. It comes from a series of nightmares. The only way that I could rid myself of the nightmares was to write about them. The most horrible part about nightmares is the paralysis, the fact that you want to scream, but your body is actually in a state of paralysis during certain stages of sleep. That gives you the silent scream. I don’t know when your body releases you from that paralytic state, but to wake up actually screaming from a nightmare, that is truly hell on earth, not just for you but for the person next to you who is trying to bring you out of the dream state.

No screams this morning. Just a dull, throbbing headache and vague memories of a dream not worth writing about or recalling.