That year, whole seasons collapsed
around us. We were shirt-sleeved and suddenly
pummeled by storm. I prayed to be kept
fog-encased and unaccountable, out
of morning’s throat. Days began with dogs
circling the pre-dawn gray. Circling, like
they knew how much we repeated. The windows
kept on with their illusions of rain. My dreams
were noisy and always the same, clouds
bruising us into earth. Drilling us like seed
into saturated furrows, certain to rot.
According to the book, every dream means
fear of death. Even when I’m inappropriately
kissed—one night on the mouth, another on the soft
of my breast, through the shirt. Nothing more
than tenderness. Another night I witness rebirth, strange
and apocalyptic: A human in miniature writhes
and contorts its face before a bird breaks through
its belly, fully feathered coverts rising Phoenix-like
from its ruptured center. Surely this will kill it, small
genderless Adam, ribcage transformed to phalanx
of wing. What wakes me isn’t the dying, or even the being
born. It’s the muffled cry of animals confused by light.
From Self-Portrait with Cephalopod by Kathryn Smith (Minneapolis: Milkweed Editions, 2021). Copyright © 2021 by Kathryn Smith. Reprinted with permission from Milkweed Editions.