NIGHT VISIONS

GRETCHEN ROCKWELL

 

“The dream is the aquarium of Night.”
        — Victor Hugo
 
 
Your soul is an octopus, a friend says,
and I agree. They are always shy
in aquariums, gentle tentacles suckering
 
you into believing you can see them
when really, they’re morphing into rocks,
slipping away from every prying eye.
 
I never remember my dreams. They belong
to my shadow self, she who walks
through the wine-dark sea of Lethe,
 
jeans soaking up saltwater like thirsty
anemones flowering in drought.
There is no reason to doubt her
 
existence, the thin slits of her pupils,
the way she slips out of memory,
silhouette fluttering around the edges
 
like spilled ink or a siphon expelling water.
As I watch, she folds herself into a message
in a bottle before floating out to sea.
 
There is no sound there, or if there is
it is the way an aquarium hushes
when the guests and staff and janitors leave,
 
taking their vibrations with them, and
in that ocean of silence, when only
bacteria sing their secret, underwater songs,
 
at last, the octopus in her cave unfurls.

 
 

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