#204 Dreamcatcher

by Louise Stark

Black moonless night surrounds the house. More hovel than house, too small for those who dwell within it, its one room too small for those who call it home. But house or hovel, black moonless night surrounds it, pressing in against its sides.

Within the single room mats have been unrolled, thin floor coverings to act as beds, transforming the room from kitchen-eating area to sleep chamber. Individuals and pairs huddle upon the mats, curled into available space, crowding each other for warmth.

A child’s thought from the edge of slumber: Dark, dark. A face—big, furry, get me . . . The thought twangs from one string, careens to another, snares in their joining.

A teenaged boy fantasizes of a lover, beauty and temptation shifting into hideousness and repulsion. He writhes in his sleep as phantom arms reach and cling . . . The disrupted imagining strikes against wooden beads, smashing to nothingness.

A woman imagines a parapet, looking down to view the vista below, leaning, then falling, falling . . . A feather slides beneath the image, wafts it to safety.

A grandfather envisions a walk through a field, sun warm upon his skin, then realizes that he is lost, confused, alone . . . The image hooks onto the willow rim, circling, circling, to take him back home.

Black moonless night presses in upon the house. Within the small dwelling thread and bead and feathers gather the nightmarish strands, splintering them and granting untroubled sleep.

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