Marilyn Stablein

Four Water Dreams

Tight Squeeze

               Don’t ask how I manage to ride in a car and take a bath scrunched up on the floor of the passenger’s side. I'm not even dirty.
               Hot water comes out of a small tube running from the engine. The water is only three inches deep but the heat feels luxurious.
               When I look up to check on the driver, I gasp. No one’s in the driver’s seat! The car slowly veers into the shoulder of the road.
               A hill approaches; the car slows way down. With no one to steer, I worry if the car can pull off the road by itself?
               Will it stall? Block traffic?
               I reach up and grab the steering wheel but I can’t see the road. When the car bumps onto the gravel on the shoulder, I cut the motor.
               Where the hell did I put that towel? 

Row Boat

                A row boat without oars races faster and faster. I can’t steer or stop. Soon the water slopes upward, higher and higher as the boat starts climbing Niagara falls!
                Luckily the boat makes it over the top. As I rest someone plays a video of the falls. A narrator advises I study the falls’ plunging descent so I can safely maneuver the boat back down the falls without getting hurt.
                The video is scary—a huge mass of water thunders over the edge. Strapped in a wooden boat I’m powerless to stop or go. Will my row boat become my coffin?
                Suddenly the boat tilts over the water’s edge and descends rapidly. Instinctively I stretch my feet flat out to slow the descent. I keep a close watch so I can safely land on my feet like a cat.


                A relative hustles me out of his house. He shoves me into an old wooden milk wagon pulled by a cow. The cow plunges into a big river and paddles midstream.
                The relative plans to torch the house to collect on the insurance.
                “Hey,” I think. “You shouldn’t torch your house.”
                In an instant I return there.
                A stranger is inside; there is no fire. Then I’m back in the cart pulled by the cow.
                Again the cow and cart plunge into the river. Will I ever get back to shore?
                The river rounds a wide ninety degree bend. The city ahead is lit up like the autumn diwali festival at the Varanasi ghats.

Runaway Frog

                Frogs are endangered in the desert. After a large dusty frog appears on the portico I quickly toss a hair net over it to catch it.
                Will the frog like the abandoned aviary shaded by the tallest cottonwood on our bosque farm? Scant rain collects in the shallow cement pond thick with mosquito larvae. Birds escaped long ago.
                The frog is antsy, rambunctious, hard to contain. Suddenly he leaps to the ground and runs like a sprinter on his hind feet.
                A squirrel gives chase, dragging the frog back to where I stand.
                The squirrel sits atop the stretched-out frog extended to his full length—at least 8 inches. More the size of a cane toad.
                A gash bleeds on the frog’s knee. When I reach down to pull the squirrel away, sharp claws hook into my right hand. It takes a moment or two to extricate my hand without puncturing the skin.

Marilyn Stablein, a multidisciplinary artist, works in poetry, prose, collage, assemblage, photography, artist books, and performance art to explore visual narrative, travelog and memoir. Her work appears in journals, books, online and in private and public collections. Dreams during seven years of counter-cultural travels in the Tibetan enclaves of the Himalayas in the Sixties inspired two earlier dream collections: Night Travels to Tibet and More Night Travels to Tibet. Two recent collage books Himalayan Notebook and Elephant Chronicles were published by Red Fox Press, Ireland. marilynstablein.com
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