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The Dreamtower

The dreamtower lifts itself towards a night sky

that, like all ceilings, is only there as part of the frame

for all the cavorting that takes place there.

By dint of its hoist, the tower lifts itself above

and out of backyards that you might once have seen from a train

so that, from time to time, you seem to catch a glimpse

of a person you once knew, maybe even someone you loved,

who should, by virtue of their being dead,

not be gesturing at you from some corner of the edifice,

phrases and faces attached like medallions to every angle

on its lattice. Sometimes two people who are beating

one another’s faces into bloody meat

make you want to leap from the tower in dismay

as you realise how dispassionately

the surrounding crowd and you are watching

the gruesome suffering that goes on and on.

But then you notice the top of the tower is glinting

in the rising sun’s first rays; and if the tower now seems

disjointed, if parts of its frame

seem to be missing

it may be because they’re melting away,

just as your recollection tries to follow

the route your dream took

through the streets of concocted cities.

But if your dream offers you one last glimpse

of a row of droplets clinging to a railing —

tiny, translucent moons, their patient trucks of watergrain ­—

that is enough of a reason for you to realise

the dreamtower is not a crane

does no heavy lifting

and you may wake.

New York Quarterly 68.4 mid-February 2024

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