High Water

Nick floated in the air while he slept

His nose touched the ceiling of the cabin

It was his sleeptalking that woke me

He kept saying there’s a water moccasin by the river

He kept saying he can’t go there no more

But I could enter his dream

I unfolded a ladder and climbed up to him

I cut his palm with a pocketknife

It was like kicking open a beaver dam

There was a dark water spilling from his hand

I saw the moon shine on it

I stood under Nick and took a shower in it

I let it run through my fingers

I was clean

Nick’s hand was filling the room with his dream water

It was up to my throat

It was freezing and my teeth were chattering

It was seeping out the old windows

It broke through the door

I was flushed out of the cabin

I was carried away by the dream river

I was spewing down the hills

I was weaving between the trees

I was pouring into other rivers

That’s how the flood happened

I swam with the current of the dream river

I choked and coughed and cried

I climbed into a rowboat that was spinning in circles

I steered with a corn broom

A water moccasin was slithering on the bottom of the rowboat

I grabbed it

I straightened that snake out

I turned it into a fishing pole

I was fishing the trout out of Nick’s dream

The trout flashed like rainbows in the dark

I saw them by the shine of the moon

But all the trout I caught were covered in engine oil

So I just let them flop back to where they came from

And then I saw the dream river rising

And then I lifted myself out of the rowboat

Like Jesus I walked barefoot on the dream river

Like a trout I swam to the bottom and hid under a fallen log

Like the air in my lungs I bubbled to the surface

Like the maple keys I floated downstream on my spine

Like I was a black bear I had a frightened salmon in my teeth

Like a lightning storm was coming I ran out of the water like a bull frog

Like the moss on the trees I bloomed in the dark

Like in a black bird’s throat I was a hoarse voice

Like I was a bloodhound in the smell of deer

Like a ghost I kissed the spiderwebs at midnight

Like the dream flood I was rising up the hillsides

Like a feather was falling through my stomach when I looked at the depths below

Like my head was a hornet nest and all I heard were broken wings

Like hey Nick did you know our hands carried the same dirt

Like the sunset I left cold and afraid

Like the wind I seeped under the door of a hunting lodge

Like a good hunter I pulled the shotgun off the wall

Like in my nightmares I burned down the lodge and danced in circles

Like I was a crazy man I fired the buckshot into the sky

And when I snapped my fingers the buckshot turned to black birds

The black birds were flying around looking for a home

I heard them beating down the dark air

And I grabbed them from the clouds

And fed them black berries

And tucked them under my arm like newspapers

I heard the rushing of the dream flood coming

I had to go higher on the hilltops

I jumped on a bloodhound’s spine

I rode him

His fur moved like the color of the shadows

His tail wagged so hard it broke

He was panting and his tongue was dragging on the ground

And at the top of the hill he was chasing his broken tail in circles

He licked my palms and my face

He bit my forearm dammit then he ran away

I had dog teeth marked on my skin

But I saw far out over the hills

I saw Nick’s sleeping body floating in the dream flood

I saw his hand shooting dark water like a geyser

I dropped my fishing pole on the ground

It turned into a water moccasin

I said sick ‘em boy

Sure enough that water moccasin was chasing after him

Sure enough my stomach was hungry again

I was gigging bull frogs with a broken rake

I saw the moon shine on their blood

I cooked them over a little fire pit

I ate frog legs

Then I stabbed my hand with a pocketknife

And I bled into the dream

This means Nick is my brother

Dusk to dusk

Lucas Dean Clark is from a rural farming community in Northeast Ohio. He writes about his dreams often and has a reoccurring nightmare where he is chased by black-haired dogs. He also walks in the woods like a ghost.