Published 'Eco-Runes' 1996
I dreamed of dropping asleep, where it was so difficult to wake.
Yet a young man, whom for a split second I recognised, demonstrated the path back through the wood, but not without warning me about the sheep that nibbled grass in the clearing at its heart. Their wool was morling, not shoring, shaved.
I took my ancient life upon my shoulders and, after shaking hands with the stranger who had sought to assist me, I entered upon the various darknesses that embraced the trees. When I woke, deep down somewhere, I was just as disappointed as relieved.
Once, I must have been a boy, I suppose, being a young man now, but the boy I had been I never really knew as me. So, I was delighted, several benighted dreams later, to become the same old man from this previous dream who then met a boy halfway into that same wood. I recognised him from the yellowing photographs in my waking album of memory. He squatted in the crook of a Bend-Over.
“Hi!” he said as if he had been waiting more than one generation for this meeting. I approached and pinched his arm to see if he was real. “Ouch!” he squawled.
“Are you really me as I once was?” I asked.
“I don’t know about that, old man, but I sure know I am the tender of baa-lambs round this neck of this woods.”
I awoke before the dream was complete. This time I tried to force myself back to sleep, eager for its ending. But daytime worries interposed, as they often did, along with the new array of memories.
In the future, probably sooner than I then thought, I shall be an old man in real life, being a young one now. So, when I paid my last visit to that dream, or vice versa, I began to feel no longer a protagonist in it. The now autonomous old man and the shepherd boy are in the heartwood counting the number of times a white ball of wool is thrown back and forth, without dropping it. The boy’s so intent on the game, I wonder what can have happened to his bo-peepery. I squint at them from behind some Sting-Backs, intrigued to see which of them falters first. I simply know the old man will drop the ball. There’s no way to pull the wool over a young man’s eyes, even if the curve of his sight’s skewed by the filtering lens of dream. They ever count a sheep, asleep.