“I am sending you a red box,”
the voice says in my dream
(a dream within a dream, really).
“Will you be there to receive it?”
An image of a lipstick-red, life-sized,
shiny red box dances in my head.
“I will!” I say, wondering who would
send me such an extravagant gift.
“Will you be coming, too?”
I add quickly, remembering manners.
I am asleep, if you recall, have no idea
who I am speaking to: a poor connection.
“Do you know who I am?” asks caller.
“Yes, of course!” I respond, not actually
knowing at all, trying to be polite.
“Looking forward to it.” Am I?
“You don’t sound surprised.”
“Surprised and delighted!” I assure,
falsely – in this semi-consciousness,
sensibility has not yet set in.
Only when I disconnect, do I panic.
Some distant memory surfaces,
a vague recollection of indiscretion –
have I invited danger into my house?
Now, I am awake – faculties firing,
heart still beating, curious/ alert.
What could this mean, this
dream within a dream?
Look to where my mind went –
larger than life expectations,
when no such detail was revealed –
was the panic just as unwarranted?
Am I subconsciously mocking:
commenting on the instability
of thought processes, in this
altered state of health?
I ponder meaning, wonder at
the significance of red boxes,
when my husband delivers –
a small, red patterned box.
“I won this for you,” he says.
Three beaded necklaces inside.
I thank him, dismissively, rapt
in my mystery, inattentive –
I’m sending you a red box;
was the message, will you be
present to receive it? – Oh God!
The pieces fall in place.
Presence alone heals
with expectations aside.
Distraction, fear, anxiety
are the undermining factors
that rape relationships
turn us from the actual gift.
I am awake, but dreaming
suspended between fantasies
of promising futures, and insults
from the past – selfish indulgence.
Marriage is the red box,
in its ever altered form –
offering endless gifts if
only we’d receive it.