From “Kenya” photo by Diego Arroyo



Always in the dream I seemed conscious of myself having the dream even as I dreamed it.
Even now, the dream moving towards light, the field of light flowing gently towards me,
I watch myself dreaming, I watch myself dreaming and watching, I watch both watchers together.
It almost seems that this is what dream is about, to think what happens as it’s happening.
Still, aren’t there disturbing repercussions in being in such an active relation with dream?
What about nightmare, for instance; nightmare is always lurking there out at the edges,
it’s part of dream’s definition: how be so involved in the intimate workings of dream
without being an accomplice of nightmare, a portion of its cause or even its actual cause?
Doesn’t what comes to me have to be my fault, and wouldn’t the alternative be more troubling still—
that I might not be the one engendering this havoc, that I’m only allowed to think so,
that the nightmare itself, hauling me through its vales of anguish, is the operative force?
What do I mean by nightmare itself, though? Wouldn’t that imply a mind here besides mine?
But how else explain all the care, first to involve me, then to frighten me out of my wits?
Mustn’t something with other agendas be shaping the dream; don’t all the enticements and traps
suggest an intention more baleful than any I’d have for visiting such mayhem on myself?
And if this isn’t the case, wouldn’t the alternative be as bad; that each element of the dream
would contain its own entailment so that what came next would just do so for no special reason?
How frivolous dream would be, then: either way, though, so much subjugation, so little choice.
Either way, isn’t the real nightmare my having so little power, even over my own consciousness?
Sometimes, when I arrive in dream here, when I arrive nearly overwhelmed with uncertainty here,
I feel a compulsion to renounce what so confounds me, to abdicate, surrender, but to what?
I don’t even know if my despair might not be another deception the devious dream is proposing.
At last, sometimes, perhaps driven to this, perhaps falling upon it in exhaustion or resignation,
I try to recapture how I once dreamed, innocently, with no thought of being beside or beyond:
I imagine myself in that healing accord I still somehow believe must precede or succeed dream.
My vigilance never flags, though; I behold the infernal beholder, I behold the uncanny beheld,
this mind streaming through me, its turbulent stillness, its murmur, inexorable, beguiling.

“Light” from Collected Poems by C.K. Williams.

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