The Lineage of Dreams
by Al Gabor

The beginning is unclear.
Suddenly, at the end
of a school corridor,
an improbable forest appears.

Not a domesticated wood,
with colored arrows on the trees
and candy wrappers braided into birds' nests,
but an old-world forest,
the kind that swallowed Hansel and Gretel,
a forest where the sun can only
insinuate itself among the shadows.

Just as it gets too dark to see,
the light in the window of a cottage ignites.
Inside my father lies sick and toothless.
Upon his quilt
I arrange the mushrooms I picked.
I did as he taught,
breaking the stems and looking for worms.
But where are the morels, the boletes,
the fawns?
Nothing here but toadstools:
poison pies and destroying angels.

My father's face holds
no fear, no hate,
just disappointment.
He is a patient man,
with silences deep as a forest,
a stillness like a mountain pool.
What can I give to him?
What can I say?
He opens his mouth,
and I hear a child's cry.

When I reach her bed,
my daughter is arguing with her dreams.
Her bed sheets spill onto the floor
and she lies like a body shipwrecked.
I arrange and cover her,
rub her back,
and the tides of sleep carry her off again.

This is a strong power,
to be able to influence dreams,
sooth the waves of sleep,
set scurrying all the monsters of her dreams
perhaps myself.