Sycamore Dreams

by Terry Ofner
The Waters
Second Place, April 2021
Judged by Sarah Carleton

When the rain dreams,
it rises into the perfect light
gathering storms and haze and fog
into mind.

When the cat dreams
the house stills,
the ductwork holds its breath,

In the carpet’s dream,
it lifts the dreamer
and the dream.
Puts them down again.

When the horse dreams,
the man kneels.
The man lifts the horse
and the dream on wings.

When the sycamore dreams,
she loosens her grip, puts down
her skin. Lifts white limbs.
White limbs. White limbs.

"Sycamore Dreams" has the rhythm of a sleeper's breath. This lyrical poem does a beautiful job of mirroring the random associations of the dreaming mind within a simple organized structure. Each stanza conjures a different dreamer in a way that's strange yet makes an odd kind of sense. The poet uses language of rising and falling that feels like inhalation and exhalation—the rain "rises into the perfect light," the ductwork "holds its breath," and the sycamore "puts down her skin." The repeated phrase at the end—"white limbs. / White limbs. White limbs”—is a lullaby, cutting us gently loose. --Sarah Carleton