This poem ponders the relationship between dreams and life, between the stories we tell about ourselves and our deepest truths. How do we narrate, revise, retell and talk over our life-work, our essence? Poetry can give a slanted entry to other modes of consciousness, to reminders of the untamed portions of our stories.
Hide and Seek
palimpsest: a manuscript or piece of writing material on which the
original writing has been effaced to make room for later writing but of
which traces remain. (Oxford Dictionary)
We inscribe our day on the palimpsest
of last night's dream;
the scratching of the day-pen crowds out
the murmur of night voices
that whisper inscrutable things.
If we could remember,
our lives would be changed utterly
but we dip the pen instead
and mark the page.
This is life, we write, what I write with my hand
And so we are not what we dream
but neither are we entirely what we seem
as we follow the slow progress
of our pen on the vellum of our skin
our day, our year.
We write a story on the palimpsest
of the shaved-down hide of our dreams.
Sometimes I see I am leaving too much behind
too much unsaid, my deep self scratched down
and covered over by someone else's text.
--Karen Lynn Erickson
Invitation for your writing:
Leaving a blank space under every line, write or type a lyric description of a dream or memory or imagined experience. Free-write for 10 minutes -- just write without planning or editing what you are writing; simply try to capture the image without worrying about accuracy or consistency. Next, in the spaces between the lines, revise the description with a more logical, consistent, "reality-based" version. Which elements do you retain? Which do you replace or revise? Is there anything "more real" about the dreamscape version, in terms of insight or perception?