“I Have Seen You in My Dreams” by Chris Huntington

Chris Huntington


In my dreams
I don’t wear glasses
or if I do, they are invisible
though in real life
whatever that is
I wear glasses everywhere, 
even to bed 
I still can’t see the smallest letters in my books
Even with my glasses, 
I am somehow fifty-two years old 
and rotting
eyes as dim as the moon in water
teeth the color of tea
a hairless head that looks like a skull
I remember
I used to be able to see quite well
but now my dreams, my life,
are both like the television of my childhood, 
everyone a few feet away, no close-ups
I have to hold books away from me
it looks as if I’m afraid I’ll spill them on my shirt
but really I just can’t see print
and people too
I hold away from me
My middle age 
has almost no kissing 
even less than a game show
where occasionally people forget themselves with greed and happiness
When I was young, my dream
was to live a life of adventure: 
Paris, broken windows, champagne, the moon
tree branches in the wind
love letters hidden inside a woman’s blouse,
dogs chasing horses
a boat in the harbor, but 
who can see—
at this distance
if the hanging sail is a message?
My real life is like a sitcom
everyone holding coffee mugs
and trying to be funny,
lines delivered 
to my cup of tea
years go by
ha ha ha
(the obvious and grisly fact,
much repeated,
that the laughter we hear
on TV shows
belongs to a studio audience
recorded sixty years ago or more
It’s the sound of dead people laughing) 
They say we don’t invent the faces we see
in dreams,
just remember them
so all these people and dogs I talk to
I must have met
or walked past them
in an airport
on the street
I’m just remembering remembering remembering
though when I dream that I am flying
or doing the breaststroke at the bottom of the sea
That is something new
I dream sometimes
about my coworkers
who, in my dreams,
are all secretly in love with me
many uncomfortable confessions
most recently in a dark closet, the buttons of our shirts touching
her voice a whisper swinging birdlike around me
which has never happened
Zhuangzi said he wasn’t sure
if he were an old man dreaming
a life made of flowers and bending sunlight
or if he was a butterfly
dreaming he was an old man
Who’s to say?
Real life
whatever that is
not something I could have ever imagined
just remembered
like when I pick up a thread or button from the closet floor
and it looks familiar
but I don’t know where it has come from
even when I pass my hands from shirt to shirt
what is this life
that leaves so little

from Rattle #77, Fall 2022


Chris Huntington: “I recently read a harrowing essay by John Matthias in which he asked his wife, who was suffering from Parkinson’s, if she was awake. She answered, ‘I don’t know,’ which terrifies me every time I think of it. I’m trying to make something beautiful out of this idea instead.” (web)

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