M贸nica de la Torre: Dream Caravan Dream

An exclusive excerpt from the poet's forthcoming book.
arts
Elliott Erwitt, Fontainebleau Hotel, Miami Beach, 1962, gelatin silver print, 11 x 15.8 in. Courtesy of Magnum Photos.

Dream Caravan Dream is an excerpt from M贸nica de la Torre鈥檚 forthcoming book of poetry. It will be featured, in part, within Pioneer Works Broadcast's first print issue, launching during the Broadcast Bash on November 4th, 2023.

An exemplary chair marrying wicker and iron. Modern-spirited鈥攊ts support crisp, crisscrossing rods. The seat鈥檚 materials extracted from and best suited for lounging anywhere in the vast region
between the Tropic of Cancer and the Tropic of Capricorn. As if designed for dream recollection, it was sold to me by D茅j脿 Vu and later placed for optimal vantage. I take my seat and gain a view of the wilderness. It all comes back to me then. I teach at an art school that has relocated to Acapulco. I鈥檝e arrived to run a couple of workshops on repetition. Faculty have transplanted their New England homes to this port city well past its golden era. Only the tents don鈥檛 clash with the architecture. Under one of them, a group of students in prairie dresses talk ecstatically about L鈥檚 divination workshop. How do coming events cast their shadows? Sunlight, grasses, breeze. Skin-clinging heat in the form of humidity. Horse-drawn carriages go by. Where are the palm trees? We are not in Appalachia. One of the artists keeps calling out to me by the wrong names: Clara, Luc铆a, nearly synonymous with lucidity. I鈥檓 off to another dream.

*

My void is called my sister, said the voice I didn鈥檛 have. Morning thoughts with the consistency of music. A sustained undoneness. Confession distorted, as if in translation. Ions, eons, and other easily confused words. Reduplication or the erotics of indeterminateness, rendered as a series of folds. In a single sentence, such as: "Synapses are plastic.鈥 Me pierdo en el tiempo. A day鈥檚 third devoted to shedding dead cells. Analysis, all memory.

Other instances include: 鈥淭he more a patch of grass is trampled, the clearer the path becomes. A memory of walking is being created." Also wingding, flimflam, back-to-back. When asked what transpired, she heard herself blurt out: 鈥淚 am not a revenant!鈥

*

Sitting at the edge of the bench, with a partial view of the screen unless I make an effort to see the whole picture. When I do, someone complains that I鈥檓 blocking the view. J, sitting in the audience, starts blasting incomprehensible pronouncements. He鈥檚 mocking lawmakers who鈥檝e just passed an outrageous bill in congress. Expanded cinema. The film is also a book. A young bed-ridden woman seeks her true identity. She finds it at the end, but the knowledge makes all that came before acquire a different meaning. We go back to the beginning. On second read, we realize it鈥檚 her twin who鈥檚 discovered her identity. The sisters have been next to each other the whole time. One is clothed and the other one is naked. I turn to the audience and tell them that poetry is law. Explain yourself, someone demands. We owe our feelings, don鈥檛 we, I ask. The audience begins to disperse; a tourist who鈥檚 announced he鈥檚 lodging at the Seasons hotel watches me put my boots back on after I wipe my feet clean. The floor is full of dirt. The last scene is a close up of feet. One twin is the right foot, the other is left.

*

Two editions of a nonexistent book. A probable book in which New York School poets discuss the composition of their works. I鈥檓 participating in the launch and have travelled with a group to a city reminiscent of Tokyo. We鈥檙e trying to find the venue and enter the wrong building. The more we get lost, the less I remember what I鈥檇 planned to say. A asks me to go fetch her copy of the book, which she forgot at the hotel. I get even more lost but manage to locate it. Her copy includes a facsimile of her journals. I can鈥檛 find the pages I鈥檇 earmarked in my own copy of the second edition. I walk into the auditorium a half hour late carrying a giant, filthy vat in each hand which I proceed to hide behind velvet curtains.

The poets are seated at a picnic table onstage and there鈥檚 a Ouija board on the table. M is there. The other A is there too. She tells me to sit on the bench across from her. I would prefer not to: if I want to face the audience, I鈥檇 have to turn my back to the other panelists. Also there, D and G with her new boyfriend, though it鈥檚 not G, it鈥檚 B. I鈥檓 still sore that she lied to me. I鈥檓 trapped onstage and have no idea what I鈥檓 supposed to be doing. I am relieved when the moderator begins querying us about our own creative processes. There are two planes: one exterior and one interior. The first requires that your antennas are out, that you allow yourself to be guided by whatever is happening outside. The interior one, on the other hand, is like a square by Josef Albers inside another square that is the exterior of the inner interior. I lose my train of thought but the moderator doesn鈥檛 notice. Her fingers are gliding on the Ouija board.

*

Identical tear marks in the same spot of the sky on consecutive days. Rows of dolphins propel themselves in the sound. I am with a group of animated, highly sociable mammals. To go from one part of town to another, both equidistant from the shore, we must walk on the beach. No one but me sees them dipping in and out of the water, fins and arched backs glistening off in the distance. Mirrored processions, unalike speeds.

*

A pit-bull lunges toward us on the trail. Its equally thick-set owner makes half-assed attempts at calling it back. He was already having a hard time controlling it when they were approaching the pond, just as we鈥檇 turned around to return to the trail head. I see flashes of torn skin and oozing blood in my mind鈥檚 eye. B uses the oversize umbrella he鈥檚 been lugging as a shield to shoo away the dog. It stops. Its owner struggles to catch up to it. Once he does, he fastens a leash onto its collar. Adrenaline rushes as it starts to pour. We quicken our step. A few minutes later, we hear shouts from behind once more. I鈥檓 shaking. There鈥檚 the dog again, though this time it moves toward us with an amicable gait. A kid catches up to him, fastens a leash onto its collar. A different dog. A retriever or lab, also honey-colored.

Probably a Maga guy. Fucking asshole. Can鈥檛 wait to see the car he鈥檚 driving.

We pass a tree on whose bare branch someone put a lost glove, giving the finger.

That鈥檚 the spirit.

At the parking lot, there鈥檚 a Vibe just like ours next to our car. The bald eagle decorating the hood is painted flamingo pink. From the mirror hang beads ending in a heart charm. The dashboard is covered in ornaments: fuzz balls in bright colors and a monarch butterfly. A stack of flags rests on the backseat.

*

I repeat the poem in Spanish a number of times so I can transcribe it upon waking. It鈥檚 so simple I can鈥檛 possibly forget it. Later a search takes me to the sole extant recording of Alejandra Pizarnik鈥檚 voice. She reads a poem by Arturo Carrera whose title translates to 鈥淲ritten with a Nyctograph.鈥 El escriba ha desaparecido.

The phrase 鈥渇uture historian of feelings鈥 in another notebook. El poema se abre. Remembering鈥檚 sediments. Esa es tu fuerza. Only the translator might be able to decode them according to the cathartic method. I am given a book of hers wrapped in kraft paper. No trace of the poem, just a password in gift form.

*

We are staying at a hotel reminiscent of the one in 鈥淟ast Year in Marienbad鈥 with our friends. He leaves me a coded message suggesting that we meet on our own, without our spouses. I am excited by his proposition and show up at the room at the end of a long corridor at the arranged time. His wife opens the door and instantly realizes what鈥檚 happening. On my way there, I was planning to call things off. Not worth it, I was going to say. We鈥檇 risk ruining our friendship forever. But it鈥檚 too late. His wife thinks the worse has already happened. I assure her there鈥檚 nothing going on between us, but everything I say makes matters worse. She鈥檚 crying. I鈥檓 crying. He arrives, mortified. B arrives. His wife delivers the news to him, delivers the news to B. Misunderstandings and projections are already causing irreparable damage. It鈥檚 a nightmare. A telenovela. No comedy of errors. I am overcome by guilt and despair. I should've known better. Something about his paintings had always suggested this kind of imbroglio to me. He gets on his knees and apologizes to the three of us.

We decide to take the poodle for a walk around the hotel and talk things out. As we鈥檙e doing that, the grounds rotate 180 degrees. I dream I wake up horrified at my behavior, fall asleep again, and begin the same dream again, but with an entirely different orientation. It dawns on me: a novel鈥檚 perfect structure. 鈾

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