609: 9 dreams

609: 9 dreams

609: 9 dreams


I’m Ada Limón and this is The Slowdown.

I am one of those people who believe that the dream world is just as important as the waking world. My whole life, dreams have revealed something to me, even if they simply alert me to what’s going on in my inner life right then.

My dreams often focus on water, on fish, and also on a previous home in Glen Ellen, California, that seems to always be there, waiting for me to return.

Today’s poem is a lyrical tribute to dreams, how each dream shows us something about the dreamer, and how our many selves are revealed to us in the all-too-real dream world.

9 dreams
by Nicole Cecilia Delgado
Translated from the Spanish by Katie Marya

for Marina Ruiz Rodríguez

I hide my sanity in a clay vase.
when I snore
only its broken rhythm remains.

as a child, I repeated the same dream: 20
centimeters from my face sharp little men
came alive, a single-line drawing.
I always wanted to touch them with my fingertips
but the edge of their body was a knife and I bled.

there is a house I always return to, several houses.
one is white and in ruins. to get
to the other one, you must go down the whole mountain. 
sometimes, awake, I remember them and want
to go, but they don’t exist.

the dream is a suspension bridge a drawbridge
an old bridge a bridge made of metal
over a river. I cross the dream river and then
my mouth rips off the bridge with my teeth. the bridge

the dream gets interrupted because I’m thirsty.
I go to the kitchen for a glass of water.
inside there are colorful fish
carnivorous flowers.
I drink.

now the dream is a garden I tend
I plant a seed
then another and another and another.

I wait endlessly.
I am sowing dead kisses.

the immensity is empty. bright fish, red
and yellow, glide merrily through. it starts
to snow and I am alone and naked but
not afraid. hundreds of worms sketch
prophetic grooves beneath my feet, absolute
symbols. I get close to see. I imitate the contours
with my index finger. with my voice I give life
to those words. the origin of all names is
the origin. each phenome has its edge. bloody 
scream in our contact. I make love, my body
grows. I push my hand in and fish. now I am 
a rebellious horseman on the back of a dancing fish.
I recognize the feel of my first intoxication.
I spin and spin and spin. the world’s asleep.

I twist the mirror’s knob and open
inside there is a mirror with a knob
I twist the mirror’s knob and open
inside there is a mirror with a knob
I twist the mirror’s knob and open
inside there is a mirror with a knob…

I open my eyes. I am surrounded by clay jars and scales.
my body is tired. my whole
room under water. I feel as though I’ve dreamed 
something terrible, but I don’t remember

"9 dreams" by Nicole Cecilia Delgado, translated from the Spanish by Katie Marya. Used by permission of the translator.