Hello and welcome to Dreamsplaining, another regular feature at Queen Mob’s Teahouse. Bored with traditional profile pieces & interviews? Me too! Here I will introduce writers and artists via their psyches by sharing one of their dreams and then explaining it. The unconscious doesn’t lie or bloviate, so we can bypass all the bullshit and get to know these misunderstood souls in-depth and truly understand them, better than they understand themselves, thanks to my top-notch dream analysis skills.
Our first misunderstood soul lives in Somerville, Massachusetts: Simeon Berry, former associate editor of Plougshares and two-time National Poetry Series winner (2013 & 2014). Both winning collections will be out next year; Ampersand Revisited in May from Fence Books and Monograph in September from University of Georgia Press. I guess you could say that 2015 should be his year.
Simeon, like a good poet, submitted four dreams. I chose this one:
I’m dreaming in a sort of documentary mode, from a few hundred feet up. The dream focuses on a small key off the coast of San Francisco. It feels more like Florida than the dark stone and clawed beaches of Northern California. Assorted smugglers, freeholders, secessionists, and exiles have built a ramshackle community on it. They are blockaded during WWII. They bravely assemble a makeshift fleet to do battle and sail off into oblivion.
There is a couple living there on the key, either just before or just after The Fall. They are largely alone. The woman is trying to conceive, but is unsuccessful.
There is a father figure who is on the periphery, who might be the caretaker of the key. He is not related by blood to the couple.
The couple keeps trying to mount a mantle over a fireplace, but it keeps failing. This is linked to the failure to conceive.
A domestic servant comes in, and she is without skin, just blood-red musculature. This is pointed out to her and she is shocked.
By divination, it is discovered that there is a gold key that has been buried in her bicep, and it rises out of her muscles (which part to allow it to pass) once they realize it’s there.
This is somehow linked to the caretaker, who it is discovered had a child with someone else. The child died soon after, and was buried in the sand on the site. The father is unaware or unwilling to admit this reality. The dead child is angry, and this is what is preventing conception.
I love baby dreams. Conception is that transformative moment, the union of opposites creating something new. Babies are full of possibilities. They generally don’t talk, so we don’t know what they’re thinking which is awesome because it lets us project all our misguided hopes onto them.
Key dreams are cool too. Keys to the kingdom of heaven. The key to the city. The capacity to bind and loose. The key to your heart. Keys unlock things that are out of our reach. Sometimes it’s treasure, sometimes it’s nothing and sometimes it’s a room full of corpses. Sometimes we’re rewarded and other times we were better off not knowing. The key is the guy working the door. Will he give you access? Do you really want access?
Let me explain what’s going on with Simeon Berry.
The dream begins with a documentary-style perception. It shows misfits & outlaws working together to fight against something. I love misfits and outlaws. Especially in a writer. I’m not sure what exactly Simeon was fighting against using these aspects of himself. It worked well but that moment passed and sailed away.
Simeon is left struggling to conceive. What is he trying to create? Probably a future 2015 National Poetry series winner, if I had to guess. But he’s failing to manifest something new.
So in comes the father-figure energy with THE KEY. Father will protect you. Father will provide for you. Father knows best. Except when he’s rigid, authoritative and controlling. Ask Scandal’s Olivia Pope about Control. But this isn’t Olivia’s dream, it’s Simeon’s and his associations to this dream character is what matters.
Dad comes in and next Simeon is trying to conceive on the fireplace mantle. Fire is warmth, light, a “gift” from the gods. Fire can also bring destruction, but in this context, getting busy on top of the fireplace mantle seems to be an attempt to create a spark.
But Simeon’s doing it wrong! You don’t create a spark on top of the mantle! Geez. The mantle is where you put things on display ABOVE the fire. Maybe Simeon needs to bring that father-figure back and have the ole birds and the bees convo?
Or maybe he needs to forget dear old dad and utilize a more “feminine” aspect of himself? This skinless “domestic servant” comes in, she’s here to serve and she has a key too. What does it mean that she doesn’t have skin? Skin is a protective covering. People are seen and perceived by their skin. Snakes shed skin, renewing and transforming. Skin is a canvas. Our personal identity. Thin-skinned. Thick-skinned. Under your skin. Saving one’s skin. Beauty is only skin deep. Skin is what’s on the outside.
Her key has nothing to do with skin, it goes much deeper. It’s in her bicep. A place of strength and power which Simeon will be able to use once he figures out it’s there. He’s knows this by DIVINATION, not by logic.
Something is preventing Simeon from conceiving something new. Something he’s unaware or unwilling to admit. What is Simeon trying care for that has passed? What is that dead baby angry about?
Once Simeon figures this out, he’ll be able to begin his next creative endeavor.
We’ll be watching.