The One Where You’re Naked, and Late for a Test

But does it rain in Seattle like it rains in my bed?
Water darkening the sheets and pounding the pillows like clouds,
a fall so heavy all my old dreams rise up in a mist–
the one with tadpoles in a styrofoam cup,
the one where I smeared my fried chicken fingers all over her dress,
the one where my mother wouldn’t stop cooking our dog,
the one where my veins turned to roots that kept coming out when I pulled,
endless as a magician’s silken rope of scarves.
Even the real one where I lived with house centipedes long as my arm–
they’re all here, rising like water
from the face of the sea, bumping the ceiling,
associating, gathering charge, making a place
they can rain from again. Perhaps you want to know this,
that dreams are your ecosystem and your resume
written in invisible ink. That we are more cloud
than sieve, more pour than fall.
That all the dreams we have had and done
leave watermarks on the bed
of our being, even if we can’t see them.
That in the daily runoff nothing is lost–
not petals, not leaves, not dirt,
not what we’ve forgotten or meant to do.
Dreams are a make-up quiz. We career
toward what we have failed to understand.
Everyone passes; nothing is ever left undone.


Erin Redfern’s poetry has appeared or is forthcoming in Zyzzyva, Red Wheelbarrow, Foliate Oak, The Hamilton Stone Review, and others. She has taught literature and writing at Northwestern University and in the California Bay Area. She has also led an “introduction to poetry” series for seniors at the Campbell Community Center and a found poem tutorial with Poetry Center San Jose. She served as poetry judge for the San Francisco Unified School District’s arts festival, and in 2015 she will serve as secretary on the board of Poetry Center San Jose and assistant editor for its print publication, Caesura.

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