Jeannine Hall Gailey • Yume (The Dream)

I hold a small animal in my hands.
I do not know its name, but I hear
what it whispers to me—
something about whiteness, a weeping cherry—
another word for brightness,
and yet a third for how hard
we hold on to what must disappear.

I lean to the animal with my cheek,
and it nibbles my brown hair. By now
it is sunset, in winter, the sky like iced concrete,
the wind is pulling me over,
bending toward the ground.
Tell me, what direction to point my nose towards spring?
Which way to fly towards what is new again?
But the animal doesn’t answer;
it keeps circling round, frantic,
as if its movements are a calendar I might live by.

When I open a door, the light is gone,
and the balloon waiting to take me home
has toppled. All I am left with
are these empty hands and no direction.
I was hoping for a prayer,
but here all I find is absence. 

Jeannine Hall Gailey is the author of Becoming the Villainess(Steel Toe Books). Her work has appeared on Writer’s Almanac, Verse Daily, and in Iowa Review. She’s working on a new manuscript called She Returns to the Floating World.