Beneath her pillow a lover left a stone
kissed her cheek, went to the mines
he was shackled, beaten yet gave up
nothing, un-betrayed to love.
She feared to move the lump
for miners die each passing night.
Her dreams once hers alone
endeared they were to another.
She did not know what type of stone,
do miners still steal diamonds? Multi-facet
prismatic, promising time or ticket
to another place, immediately or forever free?
Her lover left her sleeping on a pillow
raised a little, lumpy cheek and mattress,
her head rested upon a
flatten space, the he mass he left behind.
She dreamt that night of torture in a strange
and lonely place, where women sang lowly
songs of warning and caressed her face,
with longing before a fatal fate.
In the morning, a pounding on her door
the police looking for the stone, her lover was in tow
together they said they didn’t know,
what hurt the most — he didn’t love her.
That night she wept and slept a hardened dream
she was an orphaned boy on the street
taken in by a priest as a refugee
she woke to eulogies.
She slept again upon the stone
she was a cobbler;
the third night she was a carpenter;
the fourth an architect;
then she was a baker;
she was a doctor;
she was a psychologist;
a filmmaker, then a poet;
a linguistical mystical shaman;
an impoverished construction laborer;
a dockworker without shoes and without toes;
a pugilist with a flattened nose.
Each night a more fantastic dream,
the waking world experienced no change
daily life held no relief — her stomach no relief
yet she smiled, her job seemed to be a little less mundane.
She felt the lump had turned a little
where once uneven it now had form,
without shape, now was rounded, though
totally impoverished and without the slightest hope.
Yet the idea of a diamond
is like a bicycle or like a tomato –
good to get around, but feet will do.
Or good for a meal, but a day’s worth of food.
Even a theology was impractical long term.
There had only been life and the daily waking world
the only change had been an introduction of love
and now an introduction by lump. So she held on.
As they progressed with the nights a message:
an urgent relief, a recount of memory
an inventory of occupations to counter an emergency
there was a purpose behind her visions:
the doctor was called upon to serve the sick and elderly,
the teacher the young and aging alike, the baker baking daily,
the psychologist to help with grief, the filmmaker captured beauty,
the architect and the carpenter sheltering from the rains.
These final two, with all the others, emphasized coming waters,
floods and storms and droughts and wars and hunger.
The poet said the cobbler’s role is crucial as we’re marching
and the shoes will save our soles.
The shaman being mystic projected a position at a bridge
as people crossed to exodus the city, a clipboard
and a person staffing it – what’s your occupation?
I’m a cobbler, one would reply.
Excellent, a sole saver, your talents are always needed.
Who came next but teachers, doctors, bakers, carpenters.
The inventoriers of our lives
(the shaman, a linguist, was also into titles.)
And night by night as our heroine slept, her dreams
ran through the lists of people in the world –
the skills the world over and tools of trades
she didn’t know she knew.
She held their tools within dreaming hands,
spoke their tongues, mentored and managed,
led and foraged, died and birthed
carried those two into and out of the world.
With each night’s passing the pillow felt a little less
like a lumpy rock underneath her cheek
more like a multi-faceted, multi-sided shape
and then she forgot about it the more she dreamt of the world.
But what was that transforming beneath her cheek
for which her lover risked his life
to smuggle from the mines
so valuable and worthy of such love, in need?
Again she slept with dreams,
faced challenges rising tides along the shores,
cities flooding, corruption’s greed
of which she knew little but was learning.
And all along the simple tools the people had
their manual labor, their wheels, hammers, saws, shovels
the tools of the cobbler, the dentist, electrician and mechanic,
they needed more but didn’t know,
until one night (we’ll call it the last night for efficiency’s sake),
she was overcome with emotion and she foresaw an inventor
who designed a scheme, a system, a motor of sorts
a pumping machine, a home, a boat, a float, a spaceship.
The inventor was at a loss for he didn’t have a piece for his invention
he lacked a particular part to make the plans succeed.
The inventor failed to imagine his idea, the design,
he knew he might save lives, people from their misery.
The heroine, the dreamer awoke with a startled sense of history.
Something great was on the verge of happening.
Today was the day her dreams would be realized
but how would she recognize such fantasies?
A pounding on the door woke her from revery
the police returned seeking the stone they said.
They would search more carefully, certain she
had harbored it,
so she let them in.
They looked inside her kitchen cups where she kept the rice.
The cleaning area where she kept the soap.
The dressing area where she kept her clothes.
The sleeping area where her bed was kept.
Here they paused, and seeking out the lumpy stone
raised the pillow from the bed, the one upon
she’d rested her sleeping head for nights on end
and witnessed workers’ worlds of labor: smiling and suffering –
the workers whose efforts lose to the tides.
And the inventor whose plans lack a piece, lack a part
and the sole saver, the inventorier of our lives
she thought of these things while watching the police
as they raised the pillow and beneath it was not a stone.
Not a lumpy piece of unformed and natural shape
but a piece of steel, a wheel with many pointed ends
a gear with its cogs, (as we know it, but they did not)
and they stood over that item and she casually picked it up.
She laughed lightly, said something about a silly nephew
placed the item on the bureau with her comb and brush
and calmly encouraged the police to leave her premises.
Her lover of the iron mines had stolen the lump of ore,
a dream that turned a gear into reality that hers might
find the prophecy, becoming more than allusion
and turn a stone into a tool to turn the tide.
Did she dream this? Know these things?
Become aware of mysteries, uncertainties?
The world and it’s oddities
became like dirt underfoot in the rains and the heat.
She knew of grain and the need for laughter,
her mother’s smile facing adversity.
Her father’s memory, a cousin’s brother.
She remembered a hand held, a pair of lips.
But a pump? A valve? What to do with her dreams?
She knew only of these dreams as they
caused her grief, as she could not think of
the piece beneath the pillow and how it might be placed
into the hands of someone who might know.
Someone who might care, she hadn’t dreamt
she had lived the lives of occupations
of workers whom she knew, of lawyers, teachers
doctors, painters, bakers, but none had used
this tool. She would need help.
This would bring about a history
(as they say in poetry – the rest is mystery.)