I toss, afraid of my dreaming tonight
because last night, a blood moon sat
on a near horizon & I dreamed a cluster
of white moths danced around my lamp.
Below my balcony, five white boys, wilding.
In my living room, everything that makes
a home a home was gone and as unclear as
rainwater or ash fallen on an old Schwinn
bike, abandoned due to protests two miles
away. I knew I’d been dreaming in the same
moment I had to persuade myself it was so.
I did not know what I was dreaming of,
dreams being the stuff of Joseph of Canaan--
his sheaves rising then bowing before him--
of priests, politicians & other species of liars.
But I could not wake myself from it—even
with both of my eyes wide open, not even
when I tried to divine meaning from what,
in the end, surely means nothing at all. Still,
I consulted a tarot, a friend who said treason’s
always treason but who was shaken on behalf
of us both. A Guide to Dreams’ explanation?
Menace, infection, and death, of course, while
one gnat goose-stepped over the King of Cups.
As a girl, I told the mother who raised me
that having babies was a pain I had no plan
to endure. What did I know about pain?
What I knew about the so-called miracle
of childbirth must have come from novels--
maybe Meg in Little Women? None of it
sounded like cherry Coke or hopscotch to me.
Post-Alcott, I learned that for some mothers
the baby’s head is too big to fit through
the birth canal (which meant, I thought,
the delicate flesh not meant to tear, tore). Also
that delivery of the enfant terrible can take up
to twenty hours, sometimes longer. This is
what I understood when I met the mother
who screamed more than a blue moon
before she birthed me and then, having birthed
me, promptly gave me away so now I ask myself--
the years of childbearing having passed, uninjured--
has it been the pain of giving birth I have feared
or that I can never forget the pain of being born?
Lynne Thompson is Los Angeles’ 2021-22 Poet Laureate and a 2022 Poet Laureate Fellow of the Academy of American Poets. Thompson is the author of three collections of poetry: Beg No Pardon, Start With A Small Guitar, and most recently Fretwork, winner of the 2019 Marsh Hawk Poetry Prize. She sits on the Boards of Cave Canem and the Los Angeles Review of Books. New work can be found or is forthcoming in Best American Poetry, New England Review, Black Warrior Review, Massachusetts Review, The Common, and Copper Nickel, among others.