You are afraid to be touched because
and that’s a reasonable fear, a woman once
brushed past me in the aisle
or stairs, I’ve repressed the encounter
in amber, she said, and I was destroyed
And in the second dream she was holding the dog
back from a mourning dove and over us
the sky had what I can only describe as
exposed beams, and she said if he does
get a bird, a squirrel, he doesn’t snap the neck
or worry it, just stares at me because
holds it in the mouth, the tension between
what he has been taught and what he feels
and the word for that gap is

The vain travail. It’s the one poem I’ve
by heart, she said, the way the magician
the way the uncle finds the coin in your ear
or you’ve been holding the card this whole time
She can make you feel like a missing
word, she can smooth back your hair
and say there is all this new research about
influence, how you need to be influenced by me
In the third dream, your daughter brings
an offering in her jaws to the bed
You should be in analysis or volunteer more
You are afraid to be touched because
at the shelter. Fourth dream, fifth dream
something happened you can’t remember

until you recite it, they say “by heart”
but it’s actually lodged
here, she said, touching my neck
above the collar, and here and here
Because you are the dog and the dove
Lady and hart, the patron and system
of patronage, the tension between
us could be useful for your work, could hold
you back from the mourning
until the poem goes amber in the mouth
and speech floweth over the stone, end quote
You should write down your dreams
then destroy what you wrote, interesting
use of “exposed”