Rebecca Valley is a poet and writer from Saint Albans, Vermont. Her work has been previously published in Rattle, M Review, and The Pickled Body, among others. She is the poetry editor for The Drowning Gull, and the founder and editor-in-chief of Drizzle Review, a book review site with a focus on minority authors and books in translation. Her first chapbook, The Bird Eaters, will be published by dancing girl press in the summer of 2017.
Scenery in a dream
Life is not merely the struggling at present,
there is also the poetry and distant fields
— Zhongwen Yu
I cracked youth open. It was an accident.
It came rushing out, all over our bodies
sticky and wet and breathing our own words back at us
ones we thought had come while dreaming.
I had been dancing. You were sleeping with your head
pressed against the cold, white wall
mouthing sleep words into the sheet rock,
the same words
long and slow so the plaster could hear you.
I smelled something burning.
It was the house we lived in, but nobody had hands
to douse the fire or lips to spit it out.
It was evening, and all the boys and girls had gathered in our kitchen.
I watched their hips and hands swaying to a distant music,
their arms wrapped around each others' waists.
A little girl emerged from the rubble
of our bedroom. She was thin but
not burnt. Her skin had the matte black sheen
of wrought-iron. The smoke
had made her heavy.
Why we drift into
a certain scent.
We are wandering now in a garden
where you lift your dress so I can touch the tops
of your thighs.
I remember only your legs and
your hands, possibly
the aftertaste of
on your mouth, just
what could have been there
not even your long hair
which I loved
to run through, that distant
a long, thin
The Chinese artist Zhongwen Yu inspired this piece — I pulled the title from his painting "Like a scenery in a dream," and the epigraph is taken from the title of another of his paintings. Yu's work has a dreamy, surreal quality, like still frames from fading memories, and so this poem was built on flashes of images that don't quite fit into a linear narrative. My intention with this piece, and in the vast majority of my work, wasn't to create a cohesive story, but to capture moments and the feelings that accompany them. In many of my poems lately, including this one, I've tried to weave daydream and reality into a single story, in order to explore the way that our imagination colors our memory.
Glass: A Journal of Poetry is published monthly by Glass Poetry Press.
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