Children

We were so anxious to slip away from them. we schemed it while their arms were full of groceries, while our hearts were full of pain and betrayal. Some of us always knew they didn't understand, some of us realized it in a sinking quicksand moment.

We blazed away like the Santa Anas in the month of ruin, ready to write our own errors in stone.

But we're all still children.

I dream three nights in a row of homeless shelters. The first, I'm trying to find B., the boy I found and lost and found again. He needs me and I can't find him. In the second, the shelter is larger. It's mixed with the old Chrysler building from my hometown, huge and dank, stuffed with damp bunk beds and weeks of hot-dogs. There's a room where bunk beds are crammed in helter-skelter, where everyone sleeps at an angle. I tried to escape, through a hole in the fence, and found too many dead bodies to do anything but turn back. I pick my way through rattlesnakes and diamondbacks.

The third dream, endless hallways and dead ends. Think Winchester Mansion plus filing cabinet for those who've made one too many mistakes. I still search for Brandon. We're to be married. I'm dressed in ivory and lavender and black, running through the other walking wounded. I don't find him in time, and he marries someone else.

Fourth dream. The actual homeless shelter in its true proportions, except there's a swollen muddy river raging behind it. I'm reminded of the Sacremento in December of 2005, when I could do nothing but sit and watch it rage, fifty yards over its banks. I sit in the sun, content to be washed away, because my baby, Bump, is still a pin-sized egg buried in my left ovary, and we're never apart. I write powerful words on special thick paper, and then I wake.

Just now. I return to some kind of home that, while in the dream is legally my property, is pure fiction. We have to jump the wash full of muddy brown water. There's an outbuilding where I run a homeless shelter of my own, now. There are arguments as to where I'll sleep. I climb in bed with a faceless boy I used to love, before I left, and now can't stand. I wake.

I go outside in real life, to smoke. I feel a deep yearning, it's charring the edges of my asbestos soul, it's almost as strong as the ceaseless urge to write, to compose, to create. I come back down here and Brandon has edged across the bed in his sleep, dreaming of heaven or hell or reality, his hands outstretched to where I should be.

We're all still children, in our twenties and thirties, maybe beyond. We still need now what we thought we had then, complete safety and love and banishment of evil. Where does that leave me? I was barely ever a child. Beaten, starved, fought over like a trophy. I don't use pillows well still, at the age of twenty-four, because my mother never gave me one. My long straight toes end in a tiny crunched over pinky toe because she never gave a damn if my shoes fit. She floored me onto gravel and stench once, because I was running to my father. So what sort of mad half-child, half-adult am I? And how on earth can I make progress? And for fuck's sake what do these dreams mean?