This poem was published in the latest issue of The Antigonish Review 168 (2012). The dream which inspired this poem can be found on this blog here.
We’re getting ready for a wedding, although I don’t know who
is getting married or where we are. I step out of the shower
and you walk in, offer to help me study for my biology test.
You slice your foot open to look like the anatomical drawings
in my textbook. For ease in displaying the veins, you explain.
I wrap a towel around my wet body, not alarmed in the least.
You take a large serrated knife, slice your head from crown to chin.
No blood—a clean separation like using a comb to part one’s hair.
You say, I’ll do anything for you, talking out one side of your carved face.
In the morning I tell you about your cleavered head and foot, the strange
calmness, lack of pain or blood. Me, freshly showered, studying anatomy,
while waiting to attend the wedding of an unknown couple.
My mind tries to make sense of the strange in the ho-hum everyday
when epiphanies are disappointingly rare. I need signs,
the kind that wave a red flag in my face, like when the groom’s identity
is unknown and the man pledging devotion
is a bloodless, butchered, two-faced instructor of anatomy.