This is nonfiction prose about a real dream whose content was, as usual, fictional.
A student came into 1st hour this morning and told me he had dreamed about me. I told him that I had dreamed this morning of transparent lobsters. He thought my honest answer was pretty amusing.
I was on a fishing boat with a wooden deck and only a railing between the deck edge and the water, and I was helping a woman in a rain coat (I’m not sure who she was), but there was a pile of sea creatures dumped on deck, as if from a net, and there were beige ribbons of kelp and transparent crayfish-sized lobsters — see-through but substantial, like a jelly bean after its color candy coating has been cracked off and dissolved. Really, they could have been transparent crayfish instead of transparent lobsters, but I had the feeling/knowledge that I was in a saltwater setting rather than freshwater, and we were somehow near a dock, not more than a few feet off a dock, and we were hurrying to pick these transparent lobsters up before they crawled to the edge of the deck and dropped back to the water.
I’m not unaware that it’s boring to hear people’s dreams. There’s nothing at stake, of course. But this one above feels, for whatever reason, a bit poetic, or maybe that’s just me.
Writing about this dream reminds me that I wanted to post here the only poem I’ve published that was chosen by an editor who was not also me:
You know how in a dream you know it’s somebody
but it doesn’t look like him at all?
i met kerouac
a ride operator in a 2nd-rate theme
he was plump and balding
but young, looked about 30.
turns out it was some other jerk.
(By the way, I’m assuming I have the copyright here, not only because I signed no contract conferring those rights, but also because this was published in the student-run literary magazine of student work at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, LittleAmerica, volume 27, in, I think, spring 1994. By the way, this magazine also contains three poems by a writer named Steve Elliott, whom I don’t remember meeting but who may be this Steve Elliott.)
The striking thing about this poem is that, by now, I don’t really remember having this dream and I don’t remember writing it, and what I do remember is finding these words (excepting the title) written in my handwriting from a few months before I submitted the poem. It was far better than the poems that I was trying to write consciously as poems, at the time. But then, and now, it seems to be something that passed through me, a poem that happened, and I’m not sure how I was involved.
And so, in this way, I am probably as close as I’ll ever get to being able to encounter my own work as another (not-me) reader would encounter it. I don’t mean this to sound egotistical, but I’ve been thinking lately that I wish I could read my own writings without the context that I can’t helping bringing to that reading act. Of course, it helps to let time pass before looking back, but even if the words feel new again to me, I know that they are my words, and for that reason alone I won’t be able to think about them the same as others’ words. This isn’t really a problem, per se, not a big deal, but an aspect of creating that maybe is inherent. On the other hand, nobody but me has the insider sense of my writing process and the changes in my pile of work, etc.