“Her wounds came from the same source as her power” -Adrienne Rich

I dreamt my father dated a man. He pulled
a 3 x 5 from his wallet. Blonde strands
spilled off the man’s shoulders in black & white.
I dreamt that my chest was cotton. I dreamt
the lights flashed. I dreamt that I told him.
He listened & absorbed my splintering words.
His mouth was an aspen leaf his
mouth was a razor’s edge & he said
I should change my name.

My eyes tripled & sat on my cheeks.
I dreamt my father loved the number seven
more than me. I dreamt that he tore
my braid from my scalp. I dreamt
he called me a maggot & threw my body
from the edge of the grand canyon & his blue
jeans tore when my fingers touched him for
the last time. I dreamt that his hair was red.

I dreamt that I crumbled & became rock
at the base of the carved valley & my DNA
striped the shadows with nameless labor.
Like one photograph who can barely
sort itself out, I thought there was
only one way to die.

I dreamt that I had silver hair called spirit.
I dreamt the canyon ate me whole like ice
rained from a desert sunset. I dreamt the Beatles
never existed & I was an irrelevant fork.
I dreamt that my pipe cleaner arms pulled
me out of the garbage & into a pizza
driver’s lap. I ballooned off his knee,
hit his foot & cracked in half when he
hit the gas. I dreamt I crumbled
into smaller & smaller pieces each mile
the truck got closer to Arizona.

I dreamt I drank an Arizona tea from my thumb
like Mork in Mork & Mindy & I spent the day
in Boulder looking for a place to settle down
with my wife. I dreamt I had a wife. I dreamt
in rainbows that night. I dreamt that crossing
T’s was the hardest thing I ever had to do.

Like the dream, my fingers are unsure. I am
American, I am from the ocean, I say to myself
over & over. Am I silver? Do I have legs? Who
does this ring belong to? What dictates passage?

I dreamt I was a sonnet. My first line
smashed a bug under her misshapen
index fingers. I padded until the fifth
line, became an early volta, & stung
eyes with the easy & fast technique
of ethos.

I dreamt I dreamt the Odyssey. I wrote
it in my sleep on my forearm with the
blade of a scissor half & discovered
the question mark. I dreamt a box
congratulated me & flickered a rejection
letter at my nose. It’s a bestseller, I argued.
Classics, he replied, are for canons.

I graduated & dreamt I delivered the charge
in a pink leotard with blue & purple stripes &
no one noticed its symbolism. I wore clear
lipstick (my own invention) & kept trying
to scrape the horse shit from under my heel.

I dreamt I was born with one eye &
wasn’t allowed to drive. I was a tether
I never wore my hair loose.

I dreamt I had a wife & a husband &
I no longer counted & I came to
notice the exact shade of grass.

I forgot how to spell asteroid & kept
writing astrid. A name, a name, a baby
named Astrid or Aspen or Andrea.
I dreamt she was born early but healthy.
I dreamt I left the hospital with my
spouses & they reminded me to breathe
& a mosquito ate my baby’s new blood
that was once mine & I dreamt she
had a fatal aneurysm when we pulled
into our driveway.

I dreamt I carved a block of sand with
a fork & the mermaid I created
breathed to life, screaming my name,
fused to the ground & a decade of books
screeched out from her jaws. She choked
on the pages & her sand cheeks
bled lava & I ran for help down the beach
& no one would look at my eyes.

I dreamt I was born in a wardrobe, beside
mothballs & fur coats that brushed the sweat
from my forehead & I cried when the light
touched my eyes & my mother’s jeans
were like a canvas painting I didn’t
understand the intention behind &
I grew sheep skin over my belly &
I had graphite for shoulders & a woman
in another closet across the world
held her newborn baby in a closet
& she had graphite shoulders too but
the baby’s belly was growing weeds & baby
pulled them out with her fists & blood
sprouted as fast as the roots regrew &
she evaporated before I got the chance
to grow up & meet her & kiss her beside
a lamp & name our children after her
grandmother & pull leaves from our
second daughter’s belly & then kiss
when we decided to let the tree grow.

Violet Mitchell is a Denver-based writer and artist. She earned a B.A S. in cognitive literary studies and is completing an MFA degree in creative writing poetry, both from Regis University. Her work has been published in Heavy Feather Review, The Blue Route, Sixfold, Loophole, ANGLES, Furrow Magazine, and several other journals. She received the Robert A. O’Sullivan, S.J. Memorial Award for Excellence in Writing in 2019.