Vassar Student Review

Vassar Student Review

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When I Dream, I Visit the Ghosts of My Ancestors

I visit the ghosts of all the women who were deemed mad before me.

 

Tonight, I am awake in a field in Arkansas, breathing in the heavy air

of late summer. Daylilies and patches of crabgrass are growing at the rims

 

of my ankles. They are dancing the jitterbug with one another, smiling

breathlessly as they sway in the night’s dry wind.

 

A woman stands unmoving at the edge of the field, hugging herself

against the chill as she is soaked in the orange light

 

of the farmhouse behind her. I have never seen her face, and yet I know her.

I know her in the same way I know the riverbeds of agriculture country,

 

the riverbeds that must bear the floods of each monsoon season

in order to spew forth the fertile soil upon which food can grow.

 

How I know of this raining destruction only because it has allowed me

to eat. How I know this woman within the most earthly version of myself—

 

from yards away, she touches the inside of my wrist, whispers to me

about rivers. Tonight, we stand across from one another: starving

 

in unison. It is a bonding in madness, a bonding in which we are the bearers

of our own floods, in which we are fed by our own hands.

 

Now: we are walking counterstream, covering our scents with running

water. Soon: we will both return

 

to the quiet night which brought us here.

A Day Without Definition

Rain poured out over the glen—

as mist engulfed the green landscape, I wondered what language

 

the land thinks in. Wild rivers, cradled valleys, aching hillsides—

what are they thinking as they see us here? Does the earth have a word

 

for the rain? Maybe I am too anthropocentric, maybe the land has a way

of speaking that is far beyond anything human language could express.

 

What is semantics to an oak tree? Syntax to the grass?

I have been thinking too much about language,

 

about the words of myself and others. I wish I could experience the world

in true silence—no thoughts, no memory, no me.

 

Maybe then, I could know the rain like the earth does.

Maybe then, I could look at the bugs in the dirt and wish for nothing more.

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