I am at a conference with a poet I admire. In my dream. In my dream, I am at a conference with this poet. He isn’t the keynote speaker, or even a presenter. He just sits next to me (as though perhaps we came here together), listening to the presentation. But his focus is distracted. While his eyes are on the presenter, his mind is on my screen.
“You should close that,” says, pointing. “It’s too bright.”
It is indeed too bright. The conference room is lit in some shade of grey – the color of the air in bars when one was still able to smoke in bars. My laptop stands on the table in front of us, wide open and, for some reason, defying logic, on a plain white screen, blazing. I try to laugh nonchalantly, like it’s no big deal that I’m annoying a poet I admire: one of those poets who make me want to write, who make me want to say, “I can sleep later; I have to write now.” Of course, I’m annoying him. I reach up and close the laptop and wonder why I’ve brought a laptop when I draft with pen and paper, in hardcover blue books my Aunt Becky had given me. Why had I even brought a laptop?
My stomach rumbles low. I put my hand to my belly and am startled by its size – bulging up and out in an unfamiliar way. When had I let this happen? I press my hand to my newly protruding gut and am fascinated. I stare at this perfectly smooth half oval. This is a Belly.
“You want coffee,” says. (In my dream). “I could go for coffee.”
I nod. I can’t find words.
“I should call , see if she wants to get some coffee. I could really go for some coffee. I know it’s late, but coffee right now would be great.”
And I would agree, having coffee with two of my current-favorite poets would indeed be great, beyond great, really, and how did I even get here in the first place?
Which is the question that echoes in my head as I wake up coughing hard enough to nearly throw up. Coughing and coughing and coughing. I stumble to the bathroom and stand at the sink. I lean forward and try to focus on the drain. Drool trails onto white porcelain. I count the whisker hairs near the faucet. I’m not going to throw up. I stare at myself in the mirror and tell myself that I’m not going to throw up. I’m not.
Tonight, I’m keeping it all down.