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In a Dream

I am falling off a ladder, or
the ladder is falling off me.
Some very clever accident
is pulling the cement rug
out from under me. Sounds
of my fingernails scratching
the redwood siding are heard
up and down the street. Worms
are not very far away as I slip
into pain, but all the birds
are gone from my walk. I sprawl
in a circle of friends on this red
and wet sidewalk. I am the talk
of the neighborhood watch. Surely
this oil-based clown will get up
soon and dance. Everyone is waiting.
Surely he will say something bright
and funny before he signs the contract.
Even the paramedics are waiting.
Someone is throwing dice with the bones
of my right foot. My left arm is a flag
drooping in defeat. I have surrendered.
I have lost a battle I was never really in.
Yet I know that if I hide deep down
within myself, I shall wake and con-
tinue painting the house. Everything
will be as it should be, not as it is,
for, as it is, here now I am white and
very hard, a nightmare of laughing con-
crete, beyond both waking and interpretation.

August 23, 1983