The Ink Pool

by Amelia Bowser

I had a dream and the dream was thus:

I had a dream and I woke up feeling refreshed.

I had a dream that terrified and explained and could just also be composits of life-lived thoughts.

This was the dream:

 

I was in a space swimming, and others swam there with me. These others were tattooed with various glyphs--one an ancient crustacean, then a shell, another dear, and a ram. I looked at myself, I looked at the pictorial markings on my body and there were so many. “Why so many?” I asked in first confusion and unease crawled up my spine. We then came to stand in the pool, and this pool was aqua green, dank, but not cold, it was in a concrete building, but ancient and space encapsulated. We, me and these others--these others I now realized were my family--they started at me and one another, looking over the markings. We searched each others’ bodies for markings--perfect bodies but for the blue-inked pictures, icons of creatures great and small. Stamped on my brother’s arm had been a beaver, or barnacle, I do not remember which. On my sister three or four: a hare for sure, and also an octopus, a chimpanzee, and something of a dragonfly. My mother wore a dolphin, one dolphin, we could find no others. My father, a strapping goat imprinted on his thigh, and a dove, and pigeon, and snake. We looked at each one, touching it and asking “why?” “What is this marking for?” And how did we come here to this pool? These bodies felt ours, but we did not know the glyphs.

“Perhaps these are our pasts, stamped on to us,” my sister was the first to figure. That sat right with us for some reason: “Yes,” my brother said, “ah, yes.” And mother nodded, father turned to me, he said “You have so many.” And I looked again at the ink: I did. I had, from foot to toe, perhaps twelve, so many more than my family. My unease grew. They were all turned to me then, looking, turning my round, my arms over to see the four on each respective side of limb. “I’ll bet these are our lives,” my brother said, “and when we are covered up. . .” he did not go on, gaze on my markings. “What happens when we are covered up??” I cried, suddenly desperate. “What happens?” I asked, I pleaded with them, hoping for anything but expiration. They turned to life, to swimming again, playing, in rest of their secured spots for further form. I knew myself the wisest of them then, so lived to many lives. I knew what advice and care I could offer each one, each baby being. And I knew myself then, also the most expiring. I was uneased and fearful at this filling up on time, of the spaces and forms capacitied in my being, but I slipped into another dream somehow, and awoke so very, very refreshed.

 

Regardless, it is as it has always been: each morning, I am surprised by life, what a joy to have found another day! And so good that this one was sunny.

About the Author

It's like writing from the ether. Published in Poached Hare, The Idiom, and Vox Populi. Chapbook to come in 2022.