Cover Letter

Dear Ben,

Retired from teaching English for nine years, I’ve been receiving revelations. These are dreams, so the revelations are messages. Or I believe they are. One revelation came to me last night.

I was in a yard surrounded by high fences. Women were my guards. I was wearing loose prison clothes. I asked one of the guards how long I’d be there. “A week?” I asked her. She smiled. “Get in line for a shower,” she said.

We consent to our prisons, was what this dream said. We can’t tolerate freedom. So long as we can drug ourselves, we’re willing to accept the violence. It doesn’t take long before there’s nothing left.

My father and mother had twelve children. My father drank. My mother went to Mass. We lived in a house of about a thousand square feet. I said I would never repeat that. In my dreams, this seems to be what I’m doing.

The other revelation was this: My wife and I were watching a concert in Berkeley (we live near there). I turned to a girl, the girl sitting on my other side. She said, “You’d better shave.” When I turned back to my wife, she was gone. In fact, everybody was, and the concert was over. A woman sitting directly behind me said, “That woman went over there to talk to some people. You’re looking for her, right? After that she left.”

I walked to the train. The depot’s on the bay. No trains were running. I was alone.

In these dreams, I seem somehow held in a place I can’t get out of. And there are always women, telling me things I need to know but that do me no good.

I dream of flying, but I can’t fly high or fly far. In fact, at roof altitude, I begin to lose my power and fall back to earth (the roofs of single-story houses in this neighborhood I live in). Again, if there’s anybody else in my flying dreams, it’s always a woman or a girl. I try to rescue these people, but they’re heavy and I can’t take off. I have to let them go first.

I leave through poetry, which has changed since I last sent you anything. The change wasn’t deliberate.

My dad drank and went to sleep and died young. I write poetry. The doctor said I was all right last week at my physical. I’m sixty-six. That was good news.

Your magazine keeps getting better. Keeps me sometimes from feeling trapped.

Take good care,

Marc Petersen

Marc Petersen is a poet and photographer living in Santa Clara, CA. His work has appeared in Narrative, The Nebraska Review, The Georgia Review, The Sun, and elsewhere.