Marilyn Stablein

Water, Fire and Ice: Four Dreams

I didn't remember the dream
until Joy Williams, a writer at Yaddo,
at breakfast looked out the window and said,
"Look all the icicles are melting."

                I walk on the side of a country lane. Up ahead a mudslide. Soupy dirt slid down a hill blocking the route. I sidestep a driver who very carefully maneuvers a milk truck around the muck on the narrow road.
                Icicles project above the ground. They’re not flat but pointed like long spears.
                I break one off. It’s not ice after all but a glass shard from a chandelier—tapered, flat, and transparent. Spears are everywhere. Some as tall as three feet.
                Overhead iced wires hang down like Tibetan prayer flags. Other ice formations on the road turn out to be nests. Clusters of crystals in amazing shapes give comfort and shelter to winter birds.

Flaming Couch

                I'm on the floor on my hands and knees. Odd sparks fly around the room. Embers from a volcano on the ridge behind the house land on the oak floor.
                What if the floor catches fire?
                Quickly I rub a cloth back and forth over the wood to rub out sparks.
                A black leather couch nearby has burn holes like those from a lit cigarette someone carelessly left behind. I peer through a gap in the leather. An open flame flickers below.
                Is this a sign of some kind? Like a burning bush on a holy mountain? I see underground. A circle of modest blue flames like those on a gas stove burner set to low smolder and softly radiate.
                Everything is vulnerable. The couch, the room, the floor could all burst into flames.
                Who should I warn?

Horned Salmon

                I join some friends on a sailboat for an afternoon on the Hudson. Out in the open water the winds die down but the temperature shoots up.
                "Winter is confined to land," someone says. "It's always summer out here."
                A seal surfaces beside an unusual fish the size of a three foot salmon but with eight or ten pointy horns. As it swims near the boat everyone watches.
                Suddenly the horned fish leaps out of the water, jumps onto the sail, bounces trampoline like, then crashes down on the picnic basket I didn't realize I brought. We scuffle, a tug-of-war scramble for food. After a brief struggle I push the fish back overboard where it belongs.
                The sailboat heads through a new landscape. Fifty feet tall rocky precipices rise out of the water. People swim on one side of the river, freshwater dolphins on the other side.
                "Look," I point, "the Straits."
                Cliffs from a famous Narrows passageway transported to the Hudson. Is it the Rock of Gibraltar? Or the Straits of Magellan?


                I'm scheduled to perform in an outdoor theater overlooking a bay. There is an unknown state or country on the other side of the water.
                I'm early. Suddenly ornately painted gates like those on an old Los Angeles Buddhist temple swing open. A busy Chinese take-out counter waitress inside serves noodles and hot soup in heavy white bowls.
                Since I have time to kill I follow people through a tall iron gate beside gilded statues then enter a dark room where an old dusty unlit carousel idles.
                At a motorcycle shop people line up for free posters. I take one with an abstract pattern then try to read the print to see where I am.
                Instead I’m back at the theater stage. Sam Hamill, a poet, sits on a bench in front of me talking animatedly to someone I used to be.

Marilyn Stablein is a poet, essayist, fiction writer and mixed media artist working in collage, assemblage, sculptural artist books, and performance art. Recent books include: Vermin: A Traveler’s Bestiary (Spuyten Duyvil); Houseboat on the Ganges & A Room in Kathmandu: Letters from India & Nepal 1966-1972 and Milepost 27: Poems, a pick for Southwest Book of the Year 2019.
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