Again I’m back at Twin Oaks,* wanting to fit in,
be useful. But I’ve spilled olive oil – a lot of it—
on a new rug and I’m trying to clean it up.
The soy sauce is in a flimsy plastic bag,
unmanageable and heavy. Someone’s pushing
cars out of a second story window to let them
crash below. A nearby shelf with old lanterns
shakes, about to fall and smash. Some people
are going swimming but the sea is in the shade.
I’m chilled, want to lie down on a picnic table
that’s in the sun, but too close to shore. Oh, no!
A cow and a goat are loose in the kitchen.
And now I’m working again as a microbiologist
in a hospital. No one trains me or tells me what
to do. I see urine cups on the counter and decide
I’ll plant them on agar, but I don’t see the book
for recording specimens, don’t know the next
number. Someone says they don’t use numbers,
but write the patients’ names on the Petri plates.
Even in this dream, I wonder how one would
distinguish the patient’s plates set up from different
sources. I’m to write a number on each patient’s
face, but the marker doesn’t work. A patient laughs
with me at this absurdity. What a mess the counters
are. No blood agar plates, no set procedures.
I’m confused, dismayed, but not afraid. Am I shunned?
I wake up tired, but I can’t be fired or evicted.
*Twin Oaks Community, www.twinoaks.org
Joan Mazza has worked as a medical microbiologist, psychotherapist, and taught workshops nationally on understanding dreams and nightmares. She is the author of six self-help psychology books, including Dreaming Your Real Self (Penguin/Putnam). Her poetry has appeared in The Comstock Review, Potomac Review The MacGuffin, Slant, Prairie Schooner, Poet Lore, The Nation, and many other publications. She lives in rural central Virginia.