The Sleepwalker’s Tree
by Dottie Camptown
It is dangerous to wake a sleepwalker. So, I don’t. My shoes and jacket are ready at my bedside. She makes her way to the bottom of the stairs and opens the front door. I follow, closing it behind me so the cold won’t enter our home.
The dream pulls her barefooted along the sidewalk. She walks without weave or waiver, mirroring the straight line of row homes in our Baltimore neighborhood.
I cannot dissuade her.
She stops at the tree we named Rilke. It grows through a sidewalk cutout protected by a wrought-iron guard. Smaller than the others on the street, it has survived without thriving for a long time. She grips the dormant trunk strongly with both hands, like the shoulders of a child she needs to make listen.
“I love the dark hours of my being. I know there is room in me for a second huge and timeless life.” She whispers to the tree, “I see you awakening there in yours.”
I turn away. Without my help she will make it home. She will crawl back in our bed and in an hour or so will come down to our kitchen with no memory of this. She may notice her dirty feet or she may not. She will take my hand from across the table and, with eyes matching her words, tell me she loves me.
I tell myself this is but a period of precession.
Soon spring will arrive, and we will be fine.