In Dreams

After eighteen years there’s no real grief left   
for the man who was my father.
I hardly think of him anymore,
and those dreams I used to have,

in which he’d be standing in a room of people   
I didn’t know—maybe his new friends,   
if the dead have friendships—
those dreams no longer trouble my sleep.

He’s not in the crooked houses I wander through   
or in the field by the highway
where I’m running, chasing down
some important piece of paper,

desperate to reach it
as it’s lifted in the wake of trucks
or flattened and marked by passing cars,   
as it’s lifted again to swirl over

a broken wood fence. I don’t know why   
the paper’s so important, or if anything
is even written there.
I don’t know where the dead go,

or why it’s good to forget them,
not to see them if they come crowding
the windows or trying to lay themselves down   
and press along our bodies at night

and ask that we love them again,
that our sorrows include them once more.   
This morning I couldn’t get up.
I slept late, I dreamed of the single

sheet of paper, which I never managed to reach   
as it stuttered and soared over the grass
and a few flowers, so that I woke
with a sense of loss, wondering who

or what I had to mourn besides
my father, whom I no longer mourn,   
father buried in the earth beneath grass,   
beneath flowers I trample as I run.

Kim Addonizio, “In Dreams” from What Is This Thing Called Love. Copyright © 2004 by Kim Addonizio. Reprinted with the permission of W. W. Norton and Company, Inc.,
Source: What Is This Thing Called Love (W. W. Norton and Company Inc., 2004)
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