"Body of Dreams"
Last night, my father came to my dreaming
self in the form of a vampire.
A vampire's position is liminal—
neither alive nor dead, both and neither,
nini-funi in Japanese, two-but-not-two.
The vampire, my father, no longer on this earth,
was on the earth but could not touch me
without hurting me, nor could he speak to the dead.
Unable to pass, he craved and feared his lasting.
A bardo is a boundary between states,
Tibetan in origin—a gap that can serve as a bridge,
an open span filled with an atmosphere of suspension,
neither this nor that, nini-funi. In Dante's
version, one is offered a definite end—
suffer for your mistakes, and you will ascend.
The bardo of self-cognizant wakefulness,
the bardo of dreams, the bardo of meditation,
the bardo that occurs at the moment of death,
the bardo of the luminosity of true nature,
the bardo of transmigration or true becoming—
where there is the death of one state of mind
there is the birth of another, and between these
there is bardo, it is said—he came to me like this—
he did not sleep like an animal, nor was he awake.
The ghost state, the purgatorial state, the dream state
—the fish circuiting their tanks. The Chinese of the vendors
in the background, the music in the market,
the white noise of water aerators. I hear the sounds
and feel a swimming sensation in my chest, a video
fiction, a trick I play on myself—orange, silver-gray,
and white ghost bodies—on each body that, fanlike,
tails the head, fanlike appendages—carp, perhaps thirty,
roiling around—one extends its jaws before its face
as a human person might lick the inside of his lips.
My dream ends with my father like a batman hero
swan diving off the roof of the building
on which we speak—incapable of flight, choosing pain
in place of death that would not yet come. I saw him jump
but didn't hear the sound of his body hitting the earth.
Peter Streckfus is the author of The Cuckoo. He teaches at the University of Alabama.
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