Saturday, February 23, 2008

Entry #27

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.

26 comments:

pattinase (abbott) said...

"She walks without weave or waver." Terrific line.

DBA Lehane said...

Nicely constructed and some beautiful lines. I'd love to know what she was dreaming.

Absolute Vanilla (& Atyllah) said...

What an incredibly evocative piece of writing. The story weaves itself around and between your words. Very lyrical with some very beautiful lines.

Veggies.... said...

I really enjoyed your story. Having had experiences with a sleepwalker, it hit close to home. Well done!

Geraldine

BernardL said...

Good story.

Dottie said...

In case a reader is curious, this story was inspired by the picture and how it reminded my of a poem by Ranier Maria Rilke. Here is the poem.
Dottie

I love the dark hours of my being.
My mind deepens into them.
There I can find, as in old letters,
the days of my life, already lived,
and held like a legend, and understood.

Then the knowing comes: I can open
to another life that's wide and timeless.

So I am sometimes like a tree
rustling over a gravesite
and making real the dream
of the one its living roots
embrace:

a dream once lost
among sorrows and songs.

~ Ranier Maria Rilke ~

Sarah Hina said...

Dottie, I loved your piece. To me, it really brought home the idea that each of us desires flight, and that we are all great mysteries, even to ourselves and those who love us.

Great inspiration from Rilke. This was a beautiful, evocative story.

bluesugarpoet said...

That was cool! I can see her whispering to the tree. I love how she "grips the dormant trunk strongly with both hands, like the shoulders of a child she needs to make listen."

pjd said...

ditto bluesugarpoet

SzélsőFa said...

I was lead into the sotry, I actually felt being there..It's so poetic! I see how this poem inspiredt this piece.

Bernita said...

"like the shoulders of a child she needs to make listen."
To me, that line is the key to her dream walking.

Beth said...

Really nice writing.

Dottie said...

Thank you for the positive feedback. The moment before spring is such a powerful time. In my own life it is usually some combination of muddled despair and absolute unrest. I relate to the sleepwalker and her partner. I often feel like I am both this time of year. It was great to have a photo that captured the tension imbedded in dormancy. The inevitability of waking feels oddly dangerous.

Sarah, are you going to submit? I always love your pieces.

Beth said...

Dottie, I was leaving comments on another story and then realized, it was what I enjoy about your writing so I came back here. I like how your stories always feel real. You don't seem to try and dazzle, re-write, create lines like poetry, but you do with these simple stories and without tearing the heck out of it. Hope this makes sense. It's just what I like best about your writing.

JLB said...

This is really nice Dottie - full of mystery and intrigue. I was positively tickled pink by "She may notice her dirty feet or she may not." This sort of thing happens to me all the time... now you have me wondering! :D

Hoodie said...

I always look for your entries, Dottie. You have a conviction of writing, a style that speaks to me.

This is mesmerizing. I really enjoyed it.

MickyMc said...

My partner used to sleepwalk, and reading this reminded me of that… sleep walking is both creepy and scary for the non sleepwalking person …

steve said...

Dottie,

I've made my first entry in Jason's contest (#68) and I'm impressed at the quality of the other entries. Yours is especially evocative--I love the reference to Rilke. And I can feel the love in the last paragraph.

Aerin said...

I like the almost mystical take on sleepwalking in such realistic, normal prose. It's one of those finding-a-gem in the banal kinds of pieces. So nice!

paisley said...

oh i just love where the tree took you... what an absolutely fresh viewpoint... loved it.

raine said...

A curiously dreamlike story with a very realistic touch. No wasted words. I love the 'certainty' of your writing style--and what I think is a touch of uncertainty in your character's last proclamation:

Soon spring will arrive, and we will be fine.

Dottie said...

You are right, Raine, there is uncertainity in the last line, and, Steve, a lot of love, too. Thank you for all of the supportive feedback. Nej emailed me about the period of precession. It's an allusion to the precession of the equinoxes and the sacred tree myth of the Maya.
I've loved reading everyone's work. Great contest, Jason.

ChristineEldin said...

So smooth and easy to read. A pleasurable experience!

mendy said...

Dear Dottie,

I read this piece the other day, and I found it to be beautiful, but thought I'd sound like a simpleton to just say that...then I woke up in the middle of the night last night and thought of your story - wondering if I were to sleep walk, what would I say to the tree and who would witness it? And yet I knew from your story that the point is one wouldn't know the answers to those questions.

Anyway, I may still sound like a simpleton, but I love this story and it has stayed with me. Thanks for writing it!

jason evans said...

Her unconscious struggle is made to be his conscious one. He is the more cursed, I think. Mesmerizing use of metaphor. High marks!

Aine said...

What a unique entry! I want to know more about her conscious (awake) life.

And you've made me curious about precession... I'm off to learn more about it...