Cassie, looking at 2006
from Dancing Lessons
II.My eyes are darting wildly from chair to corner to the sunny window, anything to avoid
the faces in the room. It is late afternoon. The room is well lit but it feels dark, and cool,
I am not sure where I am.
A gentle, persistent voice asks “what do you see?”
I say I am depressed because I know this will make sense. This is a documented
I am up late, staying with friends of my father’s. They live on a rural property. We are
My father is there. I share a room with my sister and the children of the other family.
“I am always the oldest,” I say to myself.
I cannot sleep. I am vigilant. None of the things I am scared of are real, I know this.
I am almost sure. I told the others, “I am eleven, I know these things.” It was daylight
My father is crying in the next room.
That which is not real presents the gravest danger. It covers our eyes, makes us blind,
A bullet, for instance, is not real. To fire a bullet is to fling out one’s arm during a dream.
I heard of a war veteran, just home from Iraq. He had shell-shock, and would punch his
He was dreaming of another dream where ghosts were walking on a field.
When he wakes up he sees blood on his hands and on a woman’s face, also tears. When
How long has he been drifting off?
One night, also a thousand years.
Weeks — yes, only weeks ago — I was making love with a returned soldier.
I was standing on a suspension bridge over a deep trench in the forest.
My partner bowed, lifted me high over head. “It looks effortless,” or so an audience of
The river thundered far below, and white clouds skidded with infinite care across the sky
And then, moments later, I was standing firmly on the bridge. And there was no partner.
The river has taken him, he drifts off.
“What do you see?”
I see the beach now. Hear ocean sounds. The delicate, sensual Pacific. That means peace.
I am walking up the ramp from the hot sand towards the pavement, and then to the car.
Our car smells of dog, and salt, and sticky soft drinks in paper cups. We are exquisitely
So there’s ample time to bargain: for pocket money, ice-cream.
During my first, long North American winter I left my husband. My friend Christine
Once she said “being near you is like being near the ocean. You are so vast that I cannot
I wanted to cry, but that was not a possibility.
I was unwrapping an endless rope of bandages from my body, from my bruised eyes. It
Now it stretches as far as the Great Wall of China.
Some day I will take a shower at an outdoor shower in my swimsuit, at the beach,
The room seems very dark. Someone asks what year is it, what is my name,
I know the words, and I recite them.
In my dream my mouth is full of green shoots. My neck is bursting. I am green,
The sun rises, sets, rises, endlessly and the flowers bloom and fall. So fast it
So fast my own lifetime is a blur.