Sunday, April 6, 2014

A Trap Or a Blessing

Several years ago I had a vivid dream in which two of my sisters and I were in a burned out house. We were standing in the charred doorway next to charred windows wearing white clothing that was also charred. It had the appearance of an old black and white photograph and was unsettling at the time because I didn't understand it and was concerned it might be prophetic. Now I see it in another light, another perspective offered by "time." When I came across this poem the other day, I was reminded of that dream and how I have come to see time as simultaneous, not really time at all but a montage of images based on my perceptions, that I am creating my "reality" and I am always free to choose how I'm going to perceive it. Always. I honestly don't believe there are any exceptions.

"Morning In the Burned House"

In the burned house I am eating breakfast.
You understand: there is no house, there is no breakfast,
yet here I am.

The spoon which was melted scrapes against
the bowl which was melted also.
No one else is around.

Where have they gone to, brother and sister,
mother and father? Off along the shore,
perhaps. Their clothes are still on the hangers,

their dishes piled beside the sink,
which is beside the woodstove
with its grate and sooty kettle,

every detail clear,
tin cup and rippled mirror.
The day is bright and songless,

the lake is blue, the forest watchful.
In the east a bank of cloud
rises up silently like dark bread.

I can see the swirls in the oilcloth,
I can see the flaws in the glass,
those flares where the sun hits them.

I can't see my own arms and legs
or know if this is a trap or blessing,
finding myself back here, where everything

in this house has long been over,
kettle and mirror, spoon and bowl,
including my own body,

including the body I had then,
including the body I have now
as I sit at this morning table, alone and happy,

bare child's feet on the scorched floorboards
(I can almost see)
in my burning clothes, the thin green shorts

and grubby yellow T-shirt
holding my cindery, non-existent,
radiant flesh. Incandescent.


  1. Marvelous deep poem. This will be a saver in my poems collection -- barbara

    1. I'm so glad it touched you as it did me. It really is a keeper ...

  2. I agree with you about the way we create reality, but I think the dream might have rattled me too - not so much about the imagery is it, but my own feelings about it.

    1. It's a dream that has stuck with me, almost like a memory ... I see it metaphorically now, which helps me to understand it.

  3. Bits of Einstein's Theory of Relativity mixed with bits of a Dali painting. Most evocative.

  4. That is an incredible poem. I think Margaret Atwood is one of the most talented writers alive today. Thank you for sharing this with me. And your own dream. Blessings, dear Teresa. :-)

    1. She is very, very good. And blessings to you ... :)

  5. "time" as simultaneous, not really time at all, but a montage of images based on my perceptions, that I am creating my "reality," and I am always free to choose how I am going to perceive it.

    You absolutely nailed it!

  6. A perfect image to accompany your inspired post, with this disturbing poem from an author we usually perceive to be a writer of prose...

    1. Yes, I am intrigued and inspire by her ability to do both extremely well. Thank you for reading and commenting. I've visited your site, and it's beautiful ... very interesting.

    2. You're very welcome Teresa... thanks so much for your lovely comments. I've joined your blog :o)

  7. How can it be that I did not know that Margaret Atwood wrote poetry? Yet another poetic introduction by you, Teresa, and a poem that fits many of my dreams.

  8. Quantum holographic theory has an interesting perception of time where those perceiving time are at the center of a spiral staircase. Looking left or right, from different positions can render the past or the future. The idea is that time is not linear in reality. It is only made linear through our own perceptions and. perhaps, our brain wanting to make sense of things. Love this topic. I have written about it a few times.

    1. I love that image of a spiral staircase, and it seems we are on a similar page regarding time.

  9. Wow that's powerful!

    I love your blog header picture it's delightful Teresa, I've always loved horses. As a child I entered a competition to win a pony in the newspaper, my parents must have been holding their breath that I didn't win. We had no where to keep a pony living in the city.

    Sorry to have been away awhile, not been too good the past two months, but hoping the Spring sunshine will help,

    Hugs to you,
    Jane x

    1. Hi Jane, so good to see you ... I can well imagine the predicament with the pony ... we do love them ...

      My best thoughts are with you, dear Jane, and a big hug ...

  10. I forgot to say.... a very strange disturbing dream that must have been. It is odd how sometimes certain dreams stick within our mind to be recalled for a long time afterwards. I wonder why that is.


    1. Many dreams have stayed with me, like memories I can't let go of, wondering what they still have to show me.

  11. I left a comment that didn't seem to "take", so here's a second, shorter one. I didn't know that Atwood wrote poetry, and I'm really entranced by this one. Thanks for introducing me to the poem, and to Atwood-as-poet.

    I had a dream as a child about my grandfather and me in our burning house. Nothing awful happened, and I don't remember anything about it except the image of us with flames all around. There wasn't any sense of fear or trepidation. Very strange. The best part is that the image is so sharp, I still can see my grandfather perfectly, even though he died when I was about ten.

    1. Some of my dream memories are as strong or stronger than the "waking" dream/memories. I continue to wonder which is which or is there no difference? :)