Dream Diary Excerpts: Ingrid Bergman, 1951

Sean Lovelace

Oct 5: Tonight a honeybee in winter, deep, deep, curled inside this cell, this frozen cell made of, of what? I don’t have the science for it, the words, maybe saliva and then something; something is mixed inside the body and formed: a perfect octagon. Sometimes my wings feel like dry leaves tumbling in the wind. So brittle. This disconnection, a few inches distant, whispering. Where is the hive? I can’t hear its breathing. Alone in a community is truly alone. Out there is Sweden, outside a hole in a thicket near an underpass. I dream of sleet, snow, rain, fog. Short days, long nights. Very long nights. They sting.

Oct 11: Hard rain, and a soft song on the radio.

Oct 19: My fingers, the way they tap-tap-tap. The way my knee hops when I cross my legs. My ankle flexes. I’ve got this thing inside, this energy. I want to do everything now, this very second. My fingers tingle. My breasts. My lungs are too small for the breaths I take. I can’t explain. I have a thousand letters to open, letters I’ve been waiting for, am excited for, but then this few minutes to read them. And the unread? As if never written. How many thoughts will I never give in reply? A friend of mine says he despises the library: it stinks of death to him, all the books he will never open. How many kisses will I decline? How many empty stages stand silent? My chest hurts with all of this, this fluttering pressure. Or is it scratching? I’ve got this animal inside, and I am scared, overwhelmed, because what if it ends, all of me ends, before I identify this animal, before I understand how to use it, what it’s here for, what it means; before I let this animal run free?

Nov 14: I do not want to call it dreaming. More a dull thrashing, as alcohol dreams are never vibrant, never telling, or even remembered. Only a soreness of the body, as if after swimming, or sex. Only a wedge of puffiness, shadowy half moons beneath my eyes. Only a stirring of self disgust—with no known cause! Only an effect. Alcohol dreams are wasted dreams. One afternoon I awake wedged between a toilet and a dripping wall. I have on my clothing and a damp parka; my body sweated dry. And then a small wound in the shape of a question mark in the center of my left palm. All of this, and the strange words “Mice in the flour! Mice in the flour!”—they fill my head, all morning, yet I recall nothing.

Nov 18: Spongy ticking in my ears. Recurring? Roll of the rain.

Nov 20: Birds. So many varieties of birds. There is a method of holding a bird in hand. You must press; cradle the feathers with an exact pressure. Apply too little, and it will flinch, peck, flail, twist from your fingers, and fly away. A bird’s bones are hollow. Its organs are light and tiny, as needed for flight. Its heart doesn’t so much beat, as hums. Apply too much pressure, and it explodes.

Dec 23: They do not please me, my dreams, but I tell them. They are true. A field of children doing the hop-run-hop they do, their voices sparkling out. And then they leap up, higher, twist and change, into butterflies, thousand upon thousand butterflies. Worms, shimmering worms, with wings. They eat the grasses with open mouths. They eat the flowers. They eat the root and the thorn and the blue from the sky. They eat time, which I mean as everything. They smell of black pepper and rotting peach. Pulp and grab and smash and cry and cabbage green juices—they smother me. I fall consumed. I feel a tapping on my shoulder. A drop of rain? The lid of the sky cracks into nine distinct sections. A glazed darkness rushes down, a mass of spots, edges, things. It isn’t rain. It is butterflies.

Dec 26: I dream a man walks into my bedroom, ties me to a chair, and then leaves me alone, untouched.

Dec 29: I dream of circles. Cycles. The top of a seashell is a whirlpool spinning in the kitchen drain. This is madness. Sometimes I awake and the world is possibility. Sometimes I awake and it is nothing, meaningless. The day is night and the day again. A neon sign, a gin tumbler, a compact mirror, a spot on the sun, a reel of film. I can’t stop it to understand. I dream of circles; and the circles, they spin.

Sean Lovelace is on a river right now. He has a book and a beer. Other times he teaches at Ball State University. His work recently appeared in CrazyHorse, Willow Springs, and so on.