Kindred: A Sequence of Dreams

Kindred: A Sequence of Dreams


there is no end to this tunnel
I’m calling it a tunnel because that’s how I see here

when I last saw my grandmother I swore she was smaller than me
she’s a giant here
she towers over me

in her hand is a scepter made of bee stings
she tells me she tried to pass it off to my mother but she couldn’t hold it
my mother is allergic to bees

my mother is washing dishes in the kitchen in the Florida house
she is 35 years old
my youngest sister rests on her hip,
my other younger sister has surely run away again,
and 15-year-old me watches from the table

it’s littered with history homework and I’ll never understand
why people can’t learn from their horrid mistakes

I look around for my little brother and I know I’m losing him
I look around the kitchen again and I think even the wallpaper is a horrid mistake

when I wake up I’m nearly 35

I start to worry about where the kids are but then I remember
that my mother and I are not the same
she bore and bears what I’m deemed unable to

my skin is covered in puncture wounds
queen bee venom courses through my tiny veins


father hoards all his memories in a tool shed in the backyard
we are not allowed in there and he scares us away from even trying to enter
by horror stories of the vermin that lurk in the tall grass leading to it,
and the creeping and crawling things that will surely fall on our heads
the moment we open the rusted door

he hides dreams in there too

behind the coffee cans filled with bolts, nuts, screws, nails that are near dust,
mason jars of milk teeth, filthy empty boxes of appliances from the early 80s
with faded pictures on the outside of what they once stored–

I only saw them in boxes during moves
and Christmases
so maybe they’re filled with something else no one but he can understand

–treasured within all that,
there’s a pile of shed snakeskin
he swears he’ll make a belt out of one day

there are so many mixed CDs he’s made to put in his future recording studio

there are odds and ends, car parts, wooden shutters, things that probably can’t be fixed anymore
but my father believes

he believes he’ll get to it all some day

there will come a time when someone will have to go through all of that
but no one wants to think about it


my mother and I have the same dreams sometimes
I wonder if we see each other in the same one but don’t remember

I also wonder if too much time has passed between the last time I saw my loved ones
and the next time I will see them so if I wave to them
on whatever celestial plane we end up together on
would they even recognize me?

I hear my mother and grandmother in the same voice telling me
that the soul always knows


my sister just got home from work and I’m laying on her couch
the room looks different
this house looks different

this is how I know this dream hasn’t happened yet

she’s telling me about a raffle
she says the prizes are lame

I’m nodding over paperwork

in dreams and in waking life
I am always drowning in paperwork
that I can’t read

a curly haired girl who I swear is my youngest sister
played by a famous Hollywood child
whose name I can’t place
toddles into the room
and wants to know what I’m doing

I call her by my youngest sister’s name and she responds

my other sister rolls her eyes in the background
while she rifles through junk mail

I can hear my mother calling offstage
that the macaroni is done

my father is ringing the old gold dinner bell
and my brother may or may not be in the emergency room

if shared dreams are to be trusted
then we’ll never need phone calls
to tell us what happens and we’ll
never need a book to tell us that
addiction is a kind of infection

my mother and my grandmother say in the same voice:
We already know”


I stand in the middle of a room full of mirrors
grabbing fistfuls of ravens

somewhere a phone is ringing
like an angry hive

this isn’t a nightmare anymore
so I should definitely fear answering it

I have been anointed with a crown of honey–
the blood, sweat, and tears of my family

I am the last to hang up
and let go of the line

the last to be told
that I woke up a long time ago

April 2018

Published by Jennifer Patino


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