Kelle Groom
When Wendy Asked What We Dream

When Wendy asked what we dream, I wanted to say war and drowning. Not drowning exactly, but the moment when the choice is made to drown or not drown, before the mouth opens. Instead I said I never dream of cats. But that night I remembered the cats I dreamed in New York:


I’d been in a dark room sleeping, and a black cat appeared. I had wanted the cat to like me, feeling that if I were liked, chosen by children or animals, it made me popular and good in an invisible way.  I had called to the cat, a male, in a soothing way.


A man who had stood in the doorway imitated the cat, the way the cat would talk to me, in a very slow manner, nothing like the comfort of speech. The man spoke in excruciatingly slow motion speech, like a caricature: he opened his mouth like a cavern, and said “Howwwwwww   Aaaaaaaaar  Yooooouuuu” behind the cat’s back. Just as he finished, the black cat (who hadn’t heard the man) got very close to my face, opened his black cavern mouth, and spoke exactly as the man had, but with sincerity. Like a play. The cat had a companion, another cat or an insect, and both lay down to rest beside me. The companion cat or insect was making plans for the rest of their lives with me. The man in the doorway said it was obsession, and tried to shoo the cats/insect away with a round bamboo net and a loud “Yaaaaahhh.” The cats/insect were unmoved. I feared they’d be with me forever.


The buildings across the street turned blue. Linda said, “You’re a different person now.” She took out her camera phone, and pointed it at me, clicked. In the tiny screen, I saw that I was underwater, almost part of the wall, the corner booth, even the sun that came in through the glass beside me, everything else in between. Linda said, “We should go.” She was keeping the time.


Passing the bar, the Hanging Man hung from one foot, upside down. The Traitor in older tarot decks. The Star showed a naked woman, hair blown back. Headband. Her skin enough of clothing. The woman emptied two water jars into the room, more green swim.” I was dizzy from blood loss.


And I hadn’t gotten pregnant, like I’d told my doctor I would. At my twelve-week check-up, my doctor said, “Okay, you’re all set to get pregnant, so go get married.” Cocky in all my meetings with him—the man with the knife. In my initial consultation, he’d touched the forefinger of each hand to his own hips to show me where my ovaries were. As if I didn’t know, didn’t feel them tug and pinch every month, releasing. His fingers held there delicately, as if he were a dancer holding a pose. But now, after he’d had his hands inside me, seen what I would never see, after he’d stapled me back together, and was making a little joke, his round eyes wobbled, looked uncertain. His nurse had laughed, said, “She doesn’t have to get married.” I didn’t get pregnant or married. Walking down the street, all the stairs lead up to the sky. A landing in between each flight.


Found In Volume 48, No. 04
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Kelle Groom
About the Author

Kelle Groom is the author of four poetry collections, Spill, Five Kingdoms, and Luckily (Anhinga Press), and Underwater City (University Press of Florida). Her poems have appeared in AGNI, Best American Poetry, The New Yorker, New York Times, Ploughshares, and Poetry. Her memoir, I Wore the Ocean in the Shape of a Girl (Simon & Schuster) was a Barnes & Noble Discover selection and New York Times Book Review Editor's Choice. She is on the faculty of the low-residency MFA Program at Sierra Nevada College, Lake Tahoe and director of education programs at the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown, Massachusetts. “When Wendy Asked What We Dream” is from her poetry manuscript, Far Land.