DREAM & MEMORY
‘I talk of dreams, Which are the children of an idle brain, Begot of nothing but vain fantasy.’ Shakespeare – Romeo and Juliet
Everyone dreams. Every child learning how to tie his or her shoelaces; every teenager wearing make up and staying out late; every adult finding a job, making coffee, washing dishes; every retired, tired, glasses-wearing, rheumatoid arthritic veteran dreams. The memory of dreams is often evasive or non-existent. We awake from an apparently dreamless sleep, feeling that we dreamt something and it made us feel safe, afraid, warm, lost, but we cannot pin down exactly what it was. ‘It was as if… like I had… um… like that time when… but not’, only to find that, while paperclipping sheets together for filing at work, the dream springs back to mind, as though it had always been there, surprising us with its vivid detail and often flooding us with the emotion experienced in the dream.
I love to dream. The dreams in which I can fly are my favourites. Dreams of flight began when I was young, with running along the ground and willing myself off the ground. It took a lot of effort and left me exhausted as I floated past moonlit clouds. As I became more practised at dream-flying I needed less and less runway before I could rise up into the air. Friendly advice on the art of flying helped me considerably as I taught myself to ignore gravity, and made sure it did not notice my violation of its laws. Now I merely have to long to fly in my dream and I shoot up, Superman style, and loop the loop through the stars. Sometimes my dreams are narrated by myself, sometimes by a third person, and occasionally, when the dream does not go how I would like, I bargain with him or her to change the story.
I remember a lady called Babs, who I visited when I was small. She was at least a hundred to my four-year-old mind, and she had two soft toys in her room in the disinfected nursing home. Just before she died, she gave me the Cat, a black cat with white paws. I cannot now remember her face or voice, but I can clearly remember the end of the bed with a clipboard stuck to the foot board, the brown carpet, and the black cat and brown dog. I used to visit her in my dreams, where I could see her face and she would pull my braids, but when I woke up again her face was gone and all that was left was the end of the bed.
Memory differs to dream in that it is an imprint of reality, rather than an interpretation of reality. In dreams I can ignore gravity, but ignoring gravity when I am wide awake does nothing to reverse its effect. Memories vary. A group of people giving an account of a dinner party will have very different stories, will have ‘felt’ the atmosphere differently, will have noticed, appreciated and noted different details. Memory overlaps the imprint of a past reality onto the one we are experiencing in the present. Dream immerses us in a sort of alternate reality, where we make the rules whether we are conscious of doing so or not.
This issue has been approached from many angles, as diverse as the imagination could conceive. Just as we can almost relive moments good or bad, by dream or by memory, we hope that you will feel that you have relived something familiar in each piece of writing, enjoying it as though you have stepped inside someone else’s imagination.
‘Lector intende: laetaberis – Reader, read closely: you will enjoy.’ Apuleius
The next issue will be released September 2008, entitled Bon Appétit. Submission guidelines can be found here.
— Vicki Northern, Poetry Editor
© 2008, Vicki Northern