Monday, November 10, 2003

My dream thou brok’st not, but continued’st it.
Thou art so true that thoughts of thee suffice
To make dreams truths and fables histories;
Enter these arms, for since thou thought’st it best
Not to dream all my dream, let’s act the rest.

- John Donne (1572–1631), British poet. The Dream (l. 6–10). .


The Line

In a modern urban setting of tilting swooping rooflines and spireled stairwells in shades of black, we are hungry.

Somehow I know these others are looking for what I am. We flow into a diner, although the sign on the window doesn't say so. It has a title that reads like French, though, so that's a sign.

Inside there are stainless-steel runners along what must be a serving line, and other folks expectantly waiting there, so my set joins them. Very soon we are indistinguishable from those who have been here. After a while no one remembers how long any of us have been here.

We wait.

Although the runners look like a serving line along which you push a tray, there are no trays and no one is moving along them.

We wait.

The line, in fact, has no comestibles behind the glass displays...rather odd household items, like bowls and dishes and boxes of detergent.

Across the line where servers should be are women moving, albeit slowly. We are encouraged that there is something happening across the line, and by the uniforms they wear, which are jumpers over white blouses with nametags.

They are young, and they wear hairnets. I look at their expressions. I am glad to see that one of them seems to sense the pressure. She is short and dark and her eyes show concern. That's good. But it is the sort of worry you see around auto wrecks and natural disasters; it says, `Isn't this a pity? But of course none of it is my fault.'

We are trying in our mute patient method to radiate guilt across the line. Although no one of us is willing to become a spectacle by actually asking a question out loud. `See here, what are you all doing over there? And what are we doing over here?' Nobody will take that responsibility. So we wait, encouraged that there are others on our side, plenty of them, waiting just as we are, and across the line at least the servers do not seem to be surprised by our presence nor annoyed by our gawking.

They move back and forth across our sightlines, and they always carry nothing, and they disappear through a swinging door, and nowhere is there the slightest indicator of cooking. No smells at all in the
low-ceilinged dark room, although there is steam beyond the door which effectively blankets all behind it.

I move out eventually. I am only as disappointed as one would be stuck in traffic due to some foreseen accident. Oh, well. It's been just over four hours. And now I have to go back.

I have an item. It is a kite and there is another package with it, and I don't know what it is. I must return them. I go back to the dark diner, if it is a diner, to return the kite and whatever else. I don't think of the problem of returning two items which are giftwrapped, only one of which I can identify. It's just something I must do, like going to the dentist.

There seems to be a sliding along the serving line now. At one point, I pass my packages across the line. It is the first breach of the line I have seen the whole day. I move somewhere else, and then I move again to another point of the line. It isn't a prgression; it is just a shifting of a body, like the flitting of a butterfly, or apples falling at random from a peach tree. At no point do I sense myself advancing in
my mission.

I wait some time and then I move and I throw my hip out to stand and wait again; that's my strategy. I see they have a row of cash registers along one wall over behind the line, and my kite and the other item are sitting between two of them. Nobody while I watch ever touches any of the registers. The women come and go through the door, walk along their side of the line, pause, perhaps say something to another server, then glide back towards the door. Sometimes one will stride all along the line and back, passing the door three times, but eventually she will go through there. I try to mark one of them and follow her, with my eyes, like you do ants in colonies. I never see the same one twice. Once she goes through the door, she never comes out again. This is faintly sad to me, like bad news in the papers with a dateline far away.

I am waiting in the dark low room for satisfaction of some sort I have no clear idea about. But I feel no anger or disgust or resentment. Waiting is just what I'm here to do, and so I go about it. Nothing surprises me. Nothing irritates me. There is a sort of logic, I have faith, which exists far beyond my poor powers of perception.

So I wait.

DATE OF DREAM: 4/27-28/2003


I am sixty years old today. My hair is disappearing in a
male pattern and I am bearded closely and it's mostly gray
now. I tend towards male pattern fatness. I am five
foot ten. I wear glasses which grow light inside and dark
outside. I have no true visual memory, so the anonymous strangers I
see today are much like those of yesterday, and I could never
pick any of them out of a lineup.


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