“The Surreal is but reality that has not been disconnected from its mystery.” ~ René Magritte

(c) Dr Mary Major; Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundation
“Rain, Man Walking and Telegraph Pole” (nd, oil on board)
by Theodore Major

                   

“You will remember this when all else fades, this moment, here, together, by this well. There will be certain days, and certain nights, you’ll feel my presence near you, hear my voice. You’ll think you have imagined it and yet, inside you, you will catch an answering cry . . . For you, this life will never be enough, there will forever be an emptiness, where once the god was all in all in you.” ~ John Banville, from The Infinities

Wednesday evening. Hot and humid, 87 degrees.

Been having the strangest dreams lately: snippet from a dream the other night: closing someone’s dead eyes. Who was it? My father?

Theodore Major Orange Sun oil on board
“Orange Sun” (nd, oil on board)

The other night dreamed I was having a telephone conversation with Phillip in Germany; he was telling me that he was worried that he had problems. I was trying to help him, but people kept interrupting.

Dreamed I was in a store like Kmart. I was looking at the Christmas trees that they hadn’t taken down yet. A manager yelled at me across the store, told me to get away from the tree. I was so embarrassed. I went to the front desk to complain. The other manager offered me a rose.

Also dreamed that I went back to work for the realty company. None of my stuff was there. Files were missing. Had a meeting with most important client. He acted like I had never been gone. When I dream about this company, I always dream that the people working for me are the ones who worked for me years ago.

Went to get supplies from the closet, and the closet was empty, just a water pipe that was dripping cold water onto the concrete . . .

“Flame and rust. Flame and rust, the permutations
of burning. You’re on fire. Your eyes are on fire.
……….
It’s what you’ve come for. It’s what you’ll
come back for. It won’t stay with you, but you’ll
remember that it felt like nothing else you’ve felt
or something you’ve felt that also didn’t last.” ~ Lloyd Schwartz, from “Leaves”

But that dream was nothing compared to the two dreams that I had last night/this morning. In the first, I am back with my old realtor boss. I have volunteered to help take care of his mother. She is arriving by bubble . . .

Theodore Major Coast Scene with Driving Rain
“Coast Scene with Driving Rain”

It seems she is on a plane, and instead of landing, passengers are discharged in bubbles that land in the sea.

We collect her from the sea, and he tells me that she needs to stay in her round bungalow on the beach. We go to this bungalow, and it is very sparse, literally round, with a half ceiling that makes the second floor loft. My son Brett and I are tasked with taking care of her, but what we don’t know is that this bungalow is haunted by evil spirits. During the night, one of the people in the bungalow is captured by a witch doctor who curses this person, and the only way to get rid of the curse, is to spend another night in the bungalow.

We spend another night, and the bungalow is surrounded by the witch doctor and his followers, who are banging on the walls. I wonder why the windows are just holes in the walls as that is not going to keep anyone out. I know that it is only a matter of time before we are all captured. But I tell myself that if I make it through this dream, I will finally have resolved my feelings about this job.

“The reverse side also has a reverse side” ( 裏には裏がある) ~ Japanese proverb

Next dream: I am in a movie theater watching an epic movie about the Russian Revolution, but I am simultaneously part of the movie and part of the audience. At one point, I am a General who decides to abandon my post. Then I am part of the Romanov family, and they are all trying to hide from the revolutionaries. The movie theater is one of the places to hide.

Theodore Major Lone Man nd
“Lone Man” (nd, oil)

Then someone comes outside and shouts in the street that it’s over, the war is over. I don’t believe him, so I continue to hide in the old palace along with the rest of my family.

Gradually, other members of the family appear. They have all been in hiding. Finally the eldest son appears, and we know that we have our ruler again. The aging tsar tells his wife that he kept his wedding ring hidden so that no one would take it from him. He puts his ring back on and dies.

I am watching the screen and crying.

A soldier wants to sit in the row of seats in which I and my other family members are sitting. I somehow know that for him, the war is not over.

“Maybe some darks are deep enough to swallow
what we want them to.

But you can’t have two worlds in your hands
and choose emptiness.” ~ Mary Szybist, from “So-and-So Descending from the Bridge”

I realize that to protect my family I will have to kill this soldier in the darkened theater without anyone noticing. On the screen is the image of a huge painting that someone has created in which the entire revolution is depicted. The caption states that this painting is to go to a museum in D.C.

The soldier in my row sets fire to the two rows below us, but no one notices but me. I stab him in the heart. Then my sons come into the theater to tell me that a hurricane is coming. Gradually my dream family makes its way from the rows and leaves by a back door.

Theodore Major Industrial Landscape with Sun
“Industrial Landscape with Sun”

When we go outside, I realize that I am late for my job with the realtor. It’s 3 in the afternoon, and I haven’t called in to say that I’m going to be late because of the revolution. I realize that the bungalow is going to be destroyed in the hurricane, and I don’t know where his mother is even though I’m supposed to be taking care of her. I try to sneak out of the dark parking lot past the soldiers who are still looking for me.

I am on this peak, and Brett tells me that he is going to take the stairs. I tell him that I must ride the elevator because there are too many stairs. It’s only one seat, and it moves quickly down the side, but it keeps stopping on different levels for me to pay more of the toll. I become frustrated because I don’t have any money.

Suddenly, I am at a quick mart.

“Every moment happens twice: inside and outside, and they are two different histories.” ~ Zadie Smith, from White Teeth

At the quick mart, there are two young women who are a couple. They know the salesperson, and he gives them free roses. I want free roses. He gives me three broken ones. I realize that I still haven’t made it down the mountain, and now I have to carry the flowers and soda that I have bought at the quick mart.

Theodore Major Rain, Man Walking and Telegraph Pole oil on board
“Man Walking and Telegraph Pole” (nd, oil on board)

I make it to the bottom and find myself in the darkened theater again. Now everyone who is in there is different. The movie screen shows a strange pattern, and I can stick my hand into the screen. I realize that everyone is waiting for me to stick my hand in the screen, but I’m not sure what will happen when I do, so I hesitate. I wonder where the realtor’s mother has gone and if she’s safe from the hurricane. I hear someone say that the Monaco family is at my uncle’s house.

I think to myself that I’d like to have the beach bungalow, and I wonder if they’ll sell it to me for a reduced price because of the curse.

Brett tells me that it’s time to go. The young tsar, who is wearing a leather jacket, leaves with his entourage by a different door.

When I wake up, I realize that I have forgotten my therapy appointment.

All images by British artist Theodore Major (1908-1999)

Music by Foy Vance, featuring Ed Sheeran, “Guiding Light”

                   

Dark Spots

In the late nineteenth century, some photographers

claimed not only to capture images
of loved ones from beyond

the grave but to be able to photograph memories

of the deceased, their auras still glowing
around the bereaved,

as if to capture light reflected off a body could preserve

that body over time, as Beatrice explains
the presence of the dark

spots on the moon to Dante in Paradiso: how

the brightness of a celestial body
reveals the angelic

gladness that quickens the body, letizia that shines as joy

shines through an eye. Visit Fort
Courage—Take Pictures

of the Past, the billboards across Arizona advised,

and at the base of the mountain in
New Mexico, a note taped

to the gasoline pump read, Hold tight to your money—the wind

will carry it away. In the snapshot of
my grandmother in her

casket, wearing the Elizabethan collar and permed

curls she never wore, my mother
gazes through her

to a planet she always knew existed but which, without

the darkness, she could never see
before. They call

some bruises shiners like the violet stars of the Rose of Sharon

that come out in the morning and shine
all day in their leaf-black

shade, shade carved into the yard like fish scales covering

the sarcophagus in Sant’Apollinare in
Classe near Ravenna

or the stiff, veined hands of the sycamore stretched wide

in applause, the Italian gesture
of mourning.

~ Angie Estes

“My heart is maneuvering in rings of trembling darkness and unreasonable echoes of over-thoughtfulness.” ~ Virginia Woolf, from Congenial Spirits: The Selected Letters of Virginia Woolf

PS Kroyer Hornbaek in Winter oil on canvas1891
“Hornbaek in Winter” (1891, oil on canvas)
by P. S. Krøyer

                  

“A sigh just isn’t a sigh. We inhale the world and breathe out meaning. While we can. While we can.” ~ Salman Rushdie, from The Moor’s Last Sigh

Tuesday afternoon. Partly cloudy and warm, 69 degrees.

DHS222
“Summer Evening at Skagen Beach” (1893, oil on canvas)
by P. S. Krøyer

Last night I dreamed about my father. We needed to buy nitroglycerine, not sure why. Corey, my mother, my father, and I went to an old-fashioned hardware store. The man who helped us told us that we needed to be very careful not to jostle the canister when transporting it, so my dad also bought a weird-looking cart in which to move the canister. My dad and mom went to get the car. My dad called and said to meet them at the school. There was no school anywhere near the hardware store. Corey and I were lugging around this heavy cart with the canister, and I was really worried about moving it so much because I had seen what the nitro could do. The hardware store’s manager had poured a little bit around a door knob and the wood around the doorknob melted.

When we didn’t see my dad and mom, we went back inside the store. Then my dad called and wanted to know where we were, why we weren’t at the school. I told him that we couldn’t find the school. He got really mad and started yelling at me over the phone, and I heard my mother in the background telling him to calm down. Corey and I went back outside to see if we could see them. They were across the street in my dad’s old Falcon, and when I looked again, my dad was punching my mother (nothing like this ever happened in real life). I ran up to my dad and grabbed him from behind. My mother said that he was beating her because he was mad at me. Suddenly, we were in the middle of the street, and traffic was all around us. Then the dream ended.

“Heart on fire, ashes everywhere
— there’s no return from a red like that.” ~ Manuel de Freitas, from “Fado Menor,” trans. Richard Zenith

My mother still has the ability to make me feel like a six-year-old just by uttering four words: “Don’t lie to me.” This was an oft-heard phrase when I was growing up, and it has continued well into adulthood. As an only child, I was blamed for anything that happened, and very often for things that didn’t happen. Example: My mother once had me in tears by accusing me of flushing a bottle of nail polish down the toilet. I hadn’t done such a thing, and it never would have occurred to me to do such a thing.

PS Kroyer Sea at Skagen 1882 oil on canvas
“Sea at Skagen” (1882, oil on canvas)
by P. S. Krøyer

Today, she pulled into the driveway behind the Rodeo and wanted to know who had banged up the car. “There’s a big one on the front and one on the back.”

I told her that there were no new dents, that the one on the front had rust on it  because it had been there so long, had been there when I got the Rodeo, to which she responded, “Don’t lie to me.”

I wasn’t lying. I don’t lie. I’m not a liar. I felt sick to my stomach.

“The past beats inside me like a second heart.” ~ John Banville, from The Sea

PS Kroyer Summer Night on the South Beach at Skagen 1893 oil on canvas
“Summer Night on the South Beach at Skagen” (1893, oil on canvas)
by P. S. Krøyer

My friend Mari asked me in an e-mail what I’ve been doing. I responded with the following:

What am I doing? Thinking about how I used to say to myself that May Sarton didn’t start writing professionally until she was in her 50’s, and that was the perfect excuse. What’s my excuse now? I try to post something every day on my blog. On days that writing is just too hard, I usually resort to something from Jon Stewart or a single poem. I started two novels during NaNoWriMo, but failed to finish either of them. I dream in French sometimes, and I still write poems in that time between sleep and wakefulness, only to forget them entirely before I can write them down. I dream about my few friends, now scattered across the country, and I imagine lives for them since I am miserable about keeping in touch. I bought GRE prep materials so that I could take the GRE this year and apply to GW’s PhD program by January of next year. I wonder if I’ll really do that.

What am I doing?

Nothing.

“and I am only nerves, strung on constellations,
meridians and vectors quivering.” ~ Cynthia Huntington, from “Meds”

I began this post three hours ago. In between I’ve played stick with Tillie and finished reading a book that I started yesterday. I wonder if I have anything to say. I wonder if I ever have anything to say. I wonder why anyone would care what I have to say. I wonder what the point is, the point to this blog, the point to me.

PS Kroyer Painting on the Beach at Stenbert 1889 oil on canvas
“Painting on the Beach at Stenbert” (1889, oil on canvas)
by P. S. Krøyer

What am I, not who, but what? Am I doomed to be stuck in replay mode forever, that same track over and over again, the one in which I pine over the future that is not and bemoan the fates over the now that is?

I told Corey that I think my brain is full of holes, and I do. My mother thinks she might have early Alzheimer’s, and then she tells me that I’m just as bad at remembering things, so as usual, I take her words to heart, and I think, “my brain must be full of holes because I cannot remember things.” And is this post yet another attempt to dissect the person that is my mother, to try to see past her words into her DNA, the strands that define her, as if in so doing I might finally begin to understand.

No. I will never understand.

“Oh, my friend sometimes the realization runs through my head that I am actually living a supremely dangerous life: for I belong among those machines that can explode! I can’t emphasize that strongly enough. The intensities of my feeling make me shudder and laugh aloud.” ~ Friedrich Nietzsche, from Selected Letters

My friend Mari’s father died in February after a long illness. We both loved our daddies, but I would not say that we were “daddy’s girls,” or perhaps we were. Who knows. My father, when he comes to me in dreams, is always different, as in each dream is different, and I wonder if I’ve forgotten who he was. I don’t think so. But when I dream of family members, it’s always the past; everyone is younger, like my cousins who aren’t really my cousins—when I dream about the females in the family, they are always young, like they were when I used to care for them in the summers. And one other strange recurring theme: I am always very close to my male cousin, the only male with four sisters. In my dreams, we are always very, very close. We can tell each other anything.

PS Kroyer Summer Evening 1908 oil on canvas
“Summer Evening” (1908, oil on canvas)
by P. S. Krøyer

My dreams are my past, replaying itself, unfolding in different ways. I rarely dream of future selves, either the past or now, alternative nows. But my father is in my dreams much more than my mother. I suppose my dreams are my way of maintaining those connections that in real life have faded into pale, almost transparent threads, from lack of work, lack of maintenance, which doesn’t actually make sense because on a woven blanket or on a quilt, those areas that fade the fastest are the ones that are touched the most.

So does this mean that because I touch these people so often in my dreams, then the imaginary quilt is fading?

I have not answers, only far too many questions today. No answers. No defining moments. Only standing on the porch hugging my arms close to my body, trying not to let a single tear escape as my mothers says, “Don’t lie to me.”

More later. Peace.

All images by Peder Severin Krøyer, Danish painter known as prominent member of Skagen painters

Music by Maggie Eckford, “What If”

                   

Today It Seemed I Had Nothing to Say

that hadn’t been said already—
my head full of moldy
hay and feelings
of futility—

until you asked me
what it was like, for a change,
to have no barred owl
brooding above the barn,

and so I went stealing again,
softly, softly
up the worn wood loft ladder,
hoping to startle up
a glimpse of something

that even now might heft
itself lightly through the mouth
of the mow, and drift just
out of view, off-levelly,
all hollow and feather pillow,

folding and unfolding
and folding itself silently into
the forest where its terrible
utility moves like a shudder
over every living thing.

~ Todd Boss