I’ve run out of dreams. For the past four nights, all that’s been in my head, the entire time I slept, was a dial tone. I tell my friends about this. Everyone congratulates me. They tell me they had secretly run out of dreams long ago. We go out to celebrate. My friend Thomas, who hasn’t shaved in days, leans in extremely close to my face. He’s had too much to drink. He tells me that all we can do now is wait for the night that the dial tone goes silent, when whoever is on the other side of our dreams answers.
Families are experts on such rifts–between event and memory, between all sides of the story, the living and the dead, childhood and everything else. For the Spokes, the subject of our silence formed an unacknowledged nucleus around which we orbited with backs turned, looking out at the universe, sometimes sideways at one another, but never inward. If history brings us all together, secrets dwell on the underside of it, beyond the remedy, reach, and solvency of speech.
Call family secrets species of silence, except they are mineral, not biological but calcified.
I imagine a skull buried under a mountain, or a box with a rusted lock at the bottom of a pit.
The right accounting might break the lock, for perhaps that which can be honestly reckoned with can change–
…not what you ate on the train to Portsmouth all
crooked in the arm of a man who was nothing
compared to the tracks which were such violins,
steel sirens, which were nothing compared
to the thick wings of airplanes where you can see
angels leering for dear life, mouthing caution
like lyres or the sudden sound of his breath
from his body in the pitch-dark, the salt-lick
of his teeth & tongue or the solidity of your own bones,
& how you want to live in that split-second after the chain is pulled,
when the light is not on & not off.