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The Dream Decoders

by Paul Gardner

(from "The Potato Eaters")
A wooden table under oil lamp light.
Potatoes that they pulled out of brown earth,
All through the day, are now their meal at night.
Their strange, rapt faces huddle and converse.

Outside the shadows stretch and make the night,
And cast a home for hunters and their prey.
A fox calls out, and penetrates a sleep
Bulked by potatoes and the dreamless clay.

Day after day the sun beats on the fields
Now bathed in night time's cool. Is there a hand
That touches down on heavy sleep, and heals
Like trickling streams that irrigate the land?

And dreams spread out to rivers, far beyond
The boundaries made by brown earth and the sky.
That hand - to - mouth potato world all gone,
In other landscapes where the wild birds fly.

And in a dream you left brown earth behind
To walk in green fields where the river flows.
You dropped your guard, so whatever you'd find
Was what the river gave, as yet unknown.

At first the water yielded up a bag
That held some old junk, and a borrowed torch
You handed to its owner. You turned back
To face the river. And then, showing forth

Out on the water, floating points of light
In an array of colour; and their beams
Reflected on the surface and the air,
They floated on the river's changing streams.

The light of dreams could swell from a thin lamp
That makes a bright spot in a darkened room.
Their shapes and colours hold the sleeper rapt,
As fox howl music calls the waxing moon.

Follow the river, and each step you take
See a new prospect come into your view.
The bag is just old tricks to cast away,
And - dare I say? - the points of light are you.

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