In a college dorm, in a prison, in a marriage
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My student blushed all over his bald head
as he confessed, laughing,
“I have those adultery dreams — you know, the ones
where you wake up in a cold sweat:
Thank God, thank God,
I didn’t mess up my whole life!”
And I did know, for only that morning,
in the hour before dawn peels back
the first of her seventeen mauve-gray veils,
I’d gotten wild with a young man half my age.
I could taste his hard, wet mouth,
so like the mouths of my youth:
urgent, impatient, a little rough.
Then he pulled a sheaf
of fluorescent yellow condoms, a whole
fluttering, connected stream of them,
from the pocket of his slouchy jeans,
and I awoke, shaken,
in the faint light of 5 AM
to the warm touch of my husband’s hand.
Sometimes the dream saves us;
sometimes we’re saved by waking from the dream;
and some would say
it’s all of a piece: the dream, the waking,
the falling asleep again
to wake an hour later in full sun
and find coffee freshly made
in the French press on the kitchen table
with a little note alongside. Doll:
thanks for putting up with me.