Jean's journal detailing her dreams of the cosmic deep.
Last night I dreamed of scorpions again. Third time this week.
I never used to remember my dreams. It must mean something that I do now.
It’s like I’ve discovered more hours in a day, more places I have keys to unlock. Is this what it’s like for everyone? So much happens at night. We’re so busy.
A revelation that reframes a lifetime.
I woke at 4. I thought I saw the scorpions still, in the corner of the room. I looked away and back and they had disappeared. I won’t look away next time.
The first night, they weren’t doing anything. Just watching. Just waiting (for what?).
The second night, they were closer. Close enough to count (nine). Close enough so I could hear them click. Some scorpions hiss. Not these. (Not yet.)
Every night, closer.
Last night they got so close I could see they weren’t scorpions at all. Or not entirely.
A tentacle where a pincer should be. A beak. A human hand. A woman’s perfume.
They made sounds like high tide in a storm. Like swim teams echoing in concrete gyms. Like underwater tea parties.
I started telling Emerson about them, my dreams. I’ve been so consumed. He listened at first, but yesterday he said: “It’s funny how dreams are never as interesting when they happen to other people.” He’s right. How many times have I nodded politely at parties when other people tell me about the “craziest” (it’s always the craziest) dream they had last night?
But I have a feeling. The scorpions, or not-scorpions, feel different. Maybe everybody thinks their scorpions or not-scorpions are different. Either way, I won’t tell anyone else.
I feel like a cliché of myself, keeping a dream journal. I’m sure people have expected this of me for years.
- title every dream
- Always write in present tense
- journal immediately upon waking
- Describe the dream first, then analyze
- Identify a dream anchor (something you see immediately upon waking — tell yourself, “when I see _____, I will remember my dreams”),
- Document quality of sleep, colors and shapes, people and places, emotions, etc etc
The Dream of Scorpions in the Cake
I’m back at my wedding. Emerson is cutting the cake, and as soon as the frosting gives way to the knife—scorpions everywhere. Spilling out of the frosting. They are the frosting? Those dainty decorative flowers—scorpions the whole time. Dozens of them, hundreds. Thousands? More? They never end. No one screams, which is what I’d normally expect, and though no one says a word, every eye is on me. It’s clear that they know. The scorpions are my fault. I caused them, or I called them.
A waiter brings a covered dish. Grilled octopus. The scorpions vanish. We’re underwater now. But my relationship to gravity is different than everyone else’s. I run.
I wake to my heart pounding.
No color. A black and white movie. The feeling of reckoning. Surprise at my lack of surprise. Deep sleep, 7 hours. I’ve identified my knitting basket as my dream anchor.
The Dream in Color and Cold
All the dreams so far have been in black and white. Last night, though – colors on every surface.
The light catching. The light changing. The very air – stained glass. A deeply haunted sound I can’t identify.
(When Piper was little, she used to always correct me about saying “haunted” when she assumed I meant “haunting.”
“The movie wasn’t haunted, mom. It’s a movie. You mean it was haunting.”
That was never what I meant. She doesn’t correct me anymore.)
What else do I remember? I remember the color. The sound. An organ? I remember being cold. Present tense —
I’m looking up, and the sky is different here. I want to see it more closely. I reach out toward it, and something flies toward me. I am unafraid. It’s a bird, but it’s a not-bird, like the not-scorpions. Feathers unlike any feathers I’ve ever seen. But there are more pressing matters than unusual feathers. I find that now I’m up in the sky. The not bird showing me the way. Lending me use of her (I feel sure somehow that she’s a woman) wings.
I take a planet into my not-feathers, and I see now that it’s not a planet at all. It’s five.
Beside me is a deer, several eyes. A swirl of something I can’t name. Something else I can’t quite make out before I hear music from inside the colors, back on the ground, and I go toward it.
I wake up on the floor next to my dream anchor, purple yarn in my hands.
The Dream of Spiders and Swingsets
It’s the day I broke my arm as a little girl – at first almost exactly as it happened.
The swingset my father hung crooked from a decaying tree, an orange sky so violent it could only be real.
My dress is yellow, decorated with tiny purple flowers. I touch them one by one, feeling corduroy under my tiny fingers — one section turned hard under the influence of dried fruit punch.
I was up higher than I’d ever been. My legs had been training for this day. I finally got high enough so that I could stop pumping my legs, just float and enjoy the work that got me there.
I lean back in the swing to watch a flock of birds fly by. They’re entirely silent, just streaming through the sky so easily. I think of the effort of my legs, feel the leftover sting. I understand the demands of flight. I know it’s not actually easy for the birds. I admire them. I lean back further to keep them in my sight – then I fall.
There was more that came after that in my real life, more that I remember. The blinding pain, the panic of my father, the scolding that took place while I was still on the ground: “You could have fallen on your head, and then you’d be dead!” he screamed, and I remember laughing at his accidental rhyme, laughing even as the inside of my body was outside, my bones like jewelry.
But the dream changes channel then. As I fall to the ground, I jolt awake to a new reality. A sky of corduroy. A finger running along the surface of the world. Closer. Closer. Now. Here. So close I see the design of the fingerprint, which isn’t a print after all, or at least nothing human. It’s all soft surfaces and wet but still I hear hard clicks. It slurps closer to me. My skin is liquid, moving up into a straw of unknown destination.
Just when I began to understand what I’m seeing, the single finger becomes hundreds of spiders. They crawl across the sky and catch the birds I broke myself to see. They bring them to me, necks broken, lay them at my feet like offerings to a queen.
I make a mistake. I recoil from the spiders, just a bit. This makes them angry, and they grow from their anger. Grow to teach me a lesson. Grow so fast and so big, I can’t tell if the sky is corduroy anymore, or what will happen next.
I open my mouth to scream – only a whisper.
The sky fills with water.
I wake up with a nosebleed.
The Dream of the Feeling of Red
No memory of last night’s dream. The color red?
(In real life, yesterday afternoon, I saw a dead bird on the sidewalk. I’d forgotten my dream last night until right now, seeing the details on the previous page — the dead birds laid at my feet. I feel responsible for this dead bird. I’m sorry. I don’t think the red in my dream was the red of their blood, because that would be too literal. But of course it crossed my mind.)
No memory again.
Still nothing. It’s my birthday today. I might eat an entire cake.
I haven’t slept in days.
The Dream of Explosions
The first dream I’ve remembered in months.
I’m at a lake. Unseen motorboats sending waves to lap at the shore.
Mountains I’ve never seen.
That’s all. Just a lake. This title is a lie.
I know when something’s real. I know the truth of a feeling.
I don’t have to clench something in my fist to know what it is. What it means.
The Dream of the Prophecy
It was teeth again again again and then nothing, just sleep.
Last night, teeth came out from the nothing, and I am asleep but conscious of my frustration — but then — I catch them falling out of my mouth and into my hand, where they turn into nine not-scorpions. They looked different, but they were exactly the same. They do not sting me. They love me, it’s clear. Like they’re my pets. My babies. My selves. They do tricks for me, somersaults in the palm of my hand. They transform again and again.
They do not speak, but they tell me somehow, in three-part harmony:
You know what it is
To move through the world
In a single bodied self and know you are more
Three-hearted nine-brained infinity
You can help
They can find it
You’ve known this
I need to know
They fall silent.
They grow. They grow so big they disappear.
My palm feels heavy without them.
I say, “What do you mean, I? There are so many of you.”
They do not answer. The tide comes in all around me.
The water cycle is only a cycle if you lack imagination.
It’s happening it’s happening it’s happening it’s happeneng now now now
My veins are crawleng with her with them with me me yes yes
I’m the most me I’ve ever been I am acres of woods I am every field I am the floods that come and turn the fields to lakes I am every lake in the world having a slumber party and I am the sleepeng bags they burrow into I am the breakfast they eat in the morneng I am the source that feeds and I am the fed and I am the acid inside turneng the food into fuel I am the
you have no idea all that I am
you have no idea
I wake at 5pm. The house is empty. I look in the mirror, and all I see is her.
The Dream of Yellow
Teeth again. Yellow. But not teeth-yellow. Bright yellow. Healthy yellow. Vibrant yellow. Buttercups in the spring. Emerson and I danced to that buttercup song at our wedding. Didn’t we? Or was that someone else?
I’ve been a lot of someone elses. I’ve sucked all the meat off the bone of life. I’ve powdered the bone itself and put it in my coffee. I’ve had as many experiences as a woman of my time, my age (nearing 50?? really?), could have. I spark things for people, draw them to me, draw them toward their true potentials. I always have. I’ve looked at love from all angles. I know how it changes — how it always expands and holds more than you think it can. How it tunnels into you in a way that sometimes feels invasive but ultimately feels holy. Making expanse of your limits. Making forest of desert. It makes sense to me that she’s here now. I’ve expanded as much by myself as I can. Made room. That’s what being a woman is. All women put themselves in boxes. But some find—
The Dream of Them Watching
I was in a bottle of some kind, a vial. I no longer occupied a solid form. I was liquid, or gas – something that could be poured, gathered.
I was being watched. By beings who were so much less than me. They thought they had captured me, but they aren’t capable of capturing me.
Just because someone has been virtuous for a week doesn’t mean they’re cured or better or anything resembling something I deserve. Just because your eyes are full of diamonds doesn’t mean I owe you anything.
September 28, 1999
I wake up with a start. Falling from some great height. The rush, the wind. Just short of impact. I got up to get a drink of water, and the house was humming a tune I didn’t recognize. I do not know if I am in d [page tear]
the color blue
the blue on the beach that time, the glass on the sand and the swell of the water and the sky the sky the sky how those were all the same color all blues but you wouldn’t identify them as the same color if you weren’t socially conditioned to do so and how do we know how do we know which blue is which blue who keeps track
the blue of the mold under the cabinet
how it hides in the other colors
the blue of her eyes
the blue of my favorite pillow
the blue of the memory stone changes to the sound of purple
the purple of that one ocean—the one underneath the ice on jupiter’s moon
then the texture of pink—how it’s sharper than you expect—
then the memory of the green of fresh edamame
the color of the brown scum left on top of the water by boiling edamame
the color of the hair that grows out of my chin every month
the shimmer of sleeplessness
the smooth lotioned hand of emptiness
the crowded void of a car
the silver of his eyes
the metallic water taste of the raven’s call
the bright red of fog
the rough elbow skin of the mastadon’s music
the neon of extinction
the glare of shriek
the speckled marble of the place where
The Dream of Piper Behind Glass
This is a mixture of a dream and a memory. I told myself that’s not allowed, but you know? anything’s allowed if I want it to be.
I’m at the aquarium with Piper and Lucius – the same one we went to with their class that time. A field trip.
(Are field trips named that because the trips used to be to fields? But no, that wouldn’t make sense. Or would it? Fields are fields are a part of our lives our lives are knives in ways we can’t name or know)
The aquarium – the day we went – couldn’t find its octopus. This really happened. This wasn’t part of a dream. Staff members and volunteers running around wildly. I remember how Piper couldn’t participate – couldn’t concentrate – because it was all just too much.
“Do the octopi get lonely?” she asked
“They’re solitary creatures,” one of the employees replied, brusquely.
“Also, there’s some debate around what to call them,” said another employee, probably a volunteer, much younger and kinder. Expectation dulls the spark, too too often.
“It’s almost definitely not octopi, though,” she continued. “Octopuses. Octopodes. One of those. They escape all the time. They’re kind of known for it. Sometimes they let themselves out at night and back in by morning. Security footage.”
Piper said nothing. Just stared in that way of hers. The employees continued on their search.
In the dream, none of this happened.
Well, we were there. At the aquarium. The octopus was still missing. But just as the aquarium alarm (do aquariums have alarms?) went off, I pointed to the back of the tank: “There she is.”
And there she was. Piper. Floating along. Tentacled and glorious. In captivity. People watching. They threw a net around her and carried her away.
I’ve made myself fit in places that weren’t made for me. Places inhospitable to my expanse.
Do you know? What it is to be smaller on purpose? What that does to a being?
“Octopuses are solitary” – that we know of.
How arrogant, to assume. How arrogant of humans, to swim in the ocean. We know nothing of what’s in there. It could chew us up and spit us out any day now, and we’d deserve it. The ocean is as big as the sky was when you were small and didn’t understand time, which of course is a more accurate size for the sky. The ocean is as big as the inside of that one boy’s guitar. The one who played me that song, in his room at night. In the span of that song, I was every age I’ve ever been and would ever be. I remember so strongly feeling like if I put my hand in the center of that guitar, I’d come out the other end into Somewhere Else. Now I know I was right.
I’ve seen her swallow the seas. She’s shown me. I will learn to do the same.
The Dream of Fields of Me
I’m in a field, and I’m surrounded with myself.
My face on every flower.
The wind rippling through blades of my hair, baked fragrant in the sun.
It’s a shame, to be so alone on this plane with so much room for others but the knowledge that no others will come.
They don’t remember the car trip we took to the surface of the sun.
Emerson said nothing. Piper looked at me like I was crazy. I’m not crazy.
We rode in silence.
I suddenly felt like my eyeliner must have been distracting from what I was trying to say.
I removed it with the rough edge of a napkin and had red-rimmed eyes for the rest of the day.
Which could be and probably is the fashion in some other dimension. I pretended I was there.
I asked Morgan later, if she remembered that trip. She said “Yeah” with an implied “Of course” and I’ve always known but now I Know that she is my one and only. Whatever I’m learneng here will connect me to her always. She will learn more than me and meet me there.
I understand what needs to happen
I understand why it needs to happen
I understand there is no other way
but let her sleep
go to her
keep her there
like eye color, dreams and memories can be passed down through a lineage.
Ancient Egyptians believed gods could communicate with them through dreams
are you a god?
my body’s a field zone, and I don’t even know what that means
other than it’s true
the correct term is end zone, isn’t it?
and I still don’t know what that means
other than a vague idea of grass
other than the word “end”
everywhere she goes, she’s surrounded by mediocre men
he’s obviously no exception
but there are stars in his mouth
I’ve seen him chewing
and I am eager for her to find his star supply
[in different handwriting]
yes I see now
thank you for showeng me
I don’t know what’s happening to me
yesterday I woke up in the neighbor’s yard with no memory of getting there
I’m not a sleepwalker
I was holding a fish in my hand, and it was breathing without struggle
Where else is she taking me
I thought it ended in dreams but she
sometimes i don’t remember writing these
where did we go last night?
was it a planet?
can I tell them?
what about her?
I know you like her
I’m afraid of forgetteng
I’m afraid of you leaveng
I’m afraid to
if I leave my bed I leave the dreams and I leave the possibility
oh the face of faces the dream of dreams
I saw faces forever mine and his and hers and yours and
red is hunger
yellow is warneng
purple is power
blue is ouch
green is please
pink is help
brown is where are you goeng
They’ll be gone now gone soon
Nowhere warm and alive for me to come back in
But i’ll come back
And you’ll come back
And she’ll be there