After midnight, rain dancing
on the air conditioner wakes me
from a dream of blunt women
shuffling packages in an office.
I recognized no one. A tough-
looking blonde shoved a package
in my face, dared me to open it.
Brown paper, string-tied, flexible.
I feared it contained human tissue
so dropped it on the floor. The whole
office laughed a single snorting laugh.
Awake and thoroughly humbled,
I waddle to the bathroom and stare
through the opaque window in hopes
of glimpsing one familiar star
hovering in the treetops. Though clouds
occlude the cosmic distance,
a tinge of starlight penetrates
to comfort if not to resolve.
Back in bed I dream a different
and more architectonic dream.
A large brick institution, ugly
but safe. Patients still undiagnosed
roam the halls, chatting and smiling.
My tour guide’s that tough blonde woman
who mocked me with the package,
but now she guides me room to room
with polite remarks, her yellow rug
bobbing, her bulky torso shoving
the air ahead like a snowplow.
I like the place and want to apply
for eternal patient status.
But the scene shifts again, and I rise
neither asleep nor awake and step
outside into the last dreg of rain.
With a shrug of gray acquiescence
I agree that even the dullest
example of daylight trumps me,
leaving only streaks of ghost.
William Doreski lives in Peterborough, New Hampshire. His most recent collection of poetry is Waiting for the Angel (2009). He has published three critical studies, including Robert Lowell’s Shifting Colors. His essays, poetry, fiction, and reviews have appeared in many journals, including Massachusetts Review, Notre Dame Review, The Alembic, New England Quarterly, Harvard Review, Modern Philology, Antioch Review, Natural Bridge.