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.

Rebecca Valley

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 one guess on your mouth, just what could have been there not even your long hair which I loved to run through, that distant field a long, thin winding curtain.

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.
All contents © the author.