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The Dream of My Grandfather’s Return

My grandfather at the dinner table of his son-in-law’s farmhouse:
Saltines, sardines, turkey sandwiches, potato salad, jello molds.
The progressive potluck of his hardtack life, coming as it did
toward something like luxury.

The luxury was to sit down – all of his sons and daughters
under the roof, everyone getting along. My father telling
a story about the 1950s that everyone there
except the grandchildren lived through. Laughter.

Even in my dream I am the little man
who has to point out the obvious.
Whispering to him, so as not to upset everyone:
“Granddaddy, you’re dead.”

He gave me a disappointed look,
which I at first took for embarrassment.
We were suddenly in a field.
It could have been Egypt, but it followed the contours
of my uncle’s pasture. A sunset of the deepest indigo,
a cross in the distance.
Not the cross at the top of the church,
nor an old rugged cartoon rendition,
but two perfect lines of darkness
intersecting above the crest of the hill.
Neither one of us spoke a word.

I have never dreamed of him since.

  1. October 5, 2012 at 5:52 am

    whew you kinda took my breath away there in the end…with the cross and never dreaming of him again….maybe i am just sensitive this week as well to grandfather things but you got me…

  2. October 5, 2012 at 5:54 am

    Yes! Beautiful writing–perfect mix of humor and sadness, quite moving.

  3. October 5, 2012 at 9:02 am

    I hadn’t expected anything quite so unexpected as reminding him that he was dead – and then the two lines of darkness: inspired! Fine write.

  4. October 5, 2012 at 12:05 pm

    Great poem — funny memories.

    I have dreamt of lost family and friends for years. Even when I think they are gone, they have surprised me and returned.

    Not sure if this is a dream of my dead Mom or what.


  5. October 5, 2012 at 3:27 pm

    Exquisite symbolism drenched in the crepuscular dreamscape of memory. The poem unfolds in a surreal world of moving stasis where each becomes a tableau. Very beautiful and affecting.

  6. October 5, 2012 at 3:29 pm

    You use line length to great effect, especially ‘Laughter.’ ending the stanza. It signaled a shift was coming, echoed the sound, how did you do that? A wonderful blend of the narrative/anti-narrative of dream, a perfect for your prose-poem. The shift in focus, location, and emotion were all expertly managed. Beautifully done!

  7. October 5, 2012 at 7:00 pm

    Thanks for the comments and appreciation, everyone. Anna, thanks for telling me you liked the line breaks, because do you know I’ve been mentally revising them all day? I’m glad now that I’ve left them alone.

    I don’t like to comment too much, but I will say that with obvious color commentary added, this is pretty much verbatim a dream I had about 30 years ago. I was reading C.G. Jung recently (no, really!) in a section about important dreams, and this one is still the most vivid dream I’ve ever had, the only one that I’ve felt had the quality of a vision.

    • October 6, 2012 at 5:23 am

      30 year-old-dream! Wow — amazing how enduring some of our dreams can be — more enduring than ‘reality’.

  8. October 6, 2012 at 5:01 am

    oh heck…that gave me shivers…sounds like you had a close relationship with him..great job on creating an atmosphere here

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