When I Sleep I Dream
When I sleep I dream, even though
I can’t close my eyes. But in my head,
I go away. Sitting at a piano
on stage, I'm illumined
by a single spot,
and I can’t see beyond
it's cone of light. I know
the theater's full. I can hear
the whispers and coughs
and the hush settling over all.
I raise my hands toward the keyboard.
They don't reach. I feel myself
move backward, rising from the stage,
but the music plays anyway.
I move farther away and then
I’m aware again of everything –
the nurses, the janitor taking the trash,
those three at the foot of the bed
who never stop staring.
Those three I can't tell about the dream.
They don’t know I dream because
my eyes don’t close and they can’t see
me go away. And they don’t know
when I come back or that I never left.
They talk to me. I see their lips move.
I feel them touch me but I can’t tell them.
I need their touch. It's the only way
I bridge the gulf between
their world and me. But I can’t
tell them, and they can't hear.
And then I dream again.
There is another way to make it stop.
I won’t know when it happens.
I imagine it will be much the same
As the dream. Perhaps it is the dream
but instead of keys, I’ll reach for their faces
and never touch them. Just float backwards
listening to Debussy, rising up.
Joseph Saling's first book of poems A Matter of Mind is available from Foothills Publishing. His poetry and stories have appeared widely in such journals as The Raintown Review, The Formalist, Poet Lore, Ohio Journal, The Bacon Review, Nothing No One Nowhere,and Carcinogenic Poetry. He lives in Metro Atlanta with his wife Sandy and their dog Yeats where to pass the time between poems, he writes stories, paints with acrylics, works on a novel, and makes a living as a freelance health writer and editor.