hillary keel | writing

night travel

Deep breath, dreaming, awake,
I walk through white apartment,
I sleep in my kitchen, in my living room,
I’m dreaming I’m awake.

I wander through, breathing in my bed,
1-2-3-4-5 breathe in, 1-2-3-4-5-6-7-8 breathe out,
I walk in bathroom, ceramic tub with claw-feet,
I walk in living room, back around corner
I see myself asleep on mattress, in kitchen,
1-2-3-4-5 breathe in, 1-2-3-4-5-6-7-8 breathe out,

I cross the room to open door, pass myself, step out to hall,
climb stairs to heavy iron, no entry, but I push open
to roof top, walk to ledge where I climb up, balance, deep breath
then take off, flying over hill of Sunset Park, the trees, because I can,
over Greenwood Cemetery and out to East River
and then harbor, then up over Lower Manhattan, because I can,
I soar over waves, ripples of light, prism windows.

1-2-3-4-5 breathe in, 1-2-3-4-6-5-6-7-8 breathe out
am I dreaming, am I awake, am I dreaming am I awake,
I return, zap, see myself sleeping in kitchen, refrigerator,
loud hum, I walk to corner hall altar, I walk
into living room, to sofa, chest of drawers, desk,
piles of text books, I graze fingers over notebook:
lesson plans, peer out back window to fire escape
to tips of trees in Greenwood Cemetery.

1-2-3-4-5 breathe in, 1-2-3-4-5-6-7-8 breathe out
what needs to happen here? I am dreaming, I am awake,
am I dreaming? Am I awake? I’m awake that I’m dreaming,
I’m dreaming I’m awake, and go back to corner table altar:
Lackawaxen river shells, and great grandmother’s plates,
I pick up, running foxes painted onto, deep blue and gold rim,
set down, I see, 1-2-3-4-5 breathe in, 1-2-3-4-5-6-7-8 breathe out,
I am awake, that I am dreaming, a post card of The Art of Painting
by Vermeer, the girl in blue with laurel wreathe,

your back to the viewer, painting, I see your back to me
and I leap inside—swoosh—to see your face and it’s changed,
your focused, the look, you’re wearing woolen coat,
floorboards of wood are cold, blue gown, and trumpet,
the laurel wreathe on table, the mask and golden book,
you are pleased with colors I’ve prepared, you look up to smile,
to say so, you say the paints are working well.

I smile back from lead-paned window, I gaze onto Delft,
the busy streets, the roof-tops from window, but this room
needs heating, and there’s potatoes to boil, the children
are quarreling, mother needs the apothecary, I want a minute
to breathe with you, to see ultra marine, is there enough?
Yes, plenty. I see to and attend, breathe the air,
and Delft from third floor, but leave
and get back to Sunset Park,
bed, asleep, kitchen.