I record dreams as truthfully and faithfully as I can. In terms of accuracy, how successful I am varies from one attempt to the next, fiction and memory overlapping as they do. The form also varies. Some are set down in straightforward prose; others as poems; not a few are drawings and are rendered without words at all. There are even times when I do not realize I am recording a dream until I am well into the drawing or writing. This, of course, brings up a familiar question. Am I dreaming now? Are you?
The Impossible Dream
I was admiring used books through the window of a large corner shop in an old downtown district, wishing I could go in. There were some beautiful volumes — ancient encyclopedias and bibles, atlases, literature in different languages, dictionaries, old bindings, and long narrow aisles leading away. But the store wasn’t open. So I crossed the street, and on the opposite corner I found a bookstore almost identical to the one I’d just seen. This one was open. I was greeted by a rather small young man, very thin, who told me that his original plan was to open a market in that space and sell organic foods, but that at the last minute something made him change his mind. “Feel free to look around,” he said, and then he went behind what looked like an ice cream counter, ducked down, and started laughing about something. I assumed he’d found a box of white plastic spoons. His laughter subsided. When he stood up again, he was holding a violin. “It will take me awhile to learn to play this,” he said. “Maybe you can look around on your own?” I told him I understood — and then, to a haunting melody I’d never heard, I started to browse. The first book I picked up was a volume printed in Spanish and published in Chile. It was very heavy and very old. Much to my surprise, just a few pages in, there was a liquid star chart — a shimmering night sky with cold stars of different magnitudes that I could touch with my hands. I picked another spot in the book at random and found a similar page, but on this one the constellations were more pronounced, and above the diagram were the words “For Sailors.” About this time, another customer came in. He said, “That looks like an interesting book.” I told him it was more than interesting, it was a miracle, all the more so since it had been printed in the nineteenth century. But when I tried to show him the liquid charts, I couldn’t find them. The pages were now ordinary pages — beautiful, to be sure, aromatic, yellow-brown at the margins, but no longer liquid. The customer smiled. I thought that in another life he might have been Cervantes, which made me think of the word cerveza. At any rate, he had a black mustache turned up at the ends, and was wearing the hat of a knight errant. The hat was made of meticulously folded newspaper. The man’s eyebrows were headlines. Viva la Revolución.
Recently Banned Literature, May 6, 2010
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