Living in Imagination

Spirit Stick
Spirit Stick: Photo by Lillian Dunn. The snake is a toilet paper tube, colored with crayons.

But are these powers real? you ask. Real, as imagination is real, as the world opens to us, yes, and we live within our wonder. Within—not outside examining, measuring, weighing from the cyclic year of endless drought, but timeless, or timeleaping making memories, our lives out of dreams—outing our dreams and finding them in things, the things we make and do: in poems, in art, in the work of our bodies. Now and then it happens, and we don’t know what it is that has happened—a feather and a sash on a walking stick becomes or was both dream and waking action, know it by how it persists, endures, the dream that comes again changing forms, begging recognition, understanding… not in explanation or translation (so called, interpretation), but in following where it leads.

I lay a piece of rusted metal on a table beside a shard of glass, a few can tabs, crushed bottle caps, a piece of weathered wood. Move them until they fall into a dance and dance themselves into place. There is the dream and in it the answer to the question I’d forgotten to ask. It told me, I could say (if you let me speak dream speak) — it told me that this branch, my walking stick, had power, power to lead, but it was only in the dream that I heard, the dream I thought I’d forgotten on waking. But I felt it. I said it in my own voice. This stick has power.

It was beautiful.

I found ribbons, string, pieces of wire—found them on the street. I picked them up and tied them to my stick. And feathers. And leaves. Can tabs. An earring a woman gave me past midnight at the Berks Street EL station, a bell from a poet.

I carried it, self-conscious at first, this strange thing in my hand, walking beside me, and knew inhibition to be a thing imported, not part of me, that inhibition was a not prohibition, but the feeling of resistance when you begin to push open a door that has been long sealed. Push… push through, and on the other side, you find yourself saying, that if I were to see a feathered earring in a window, I’d go in that store and have my ears pierced so I could wear it. And that happened! A small thing, you say—but it wasn’t. It was another door to another world. Or rather, the piercing of an invisible membrane , and the dreams came leaking out into the waking world.

Nevermind what anyone might think. And I hung poems on a dead tree. And recited them in the SEPTA concourse at 15th Street with my Spirit Stick and earrings, now made of can tabs, and a bowler hat, undoing myself and making myself anew—out of a single feather and a sash. This has power, I said. Can you tell me I am wrong?

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