Details of a Dream

You asked me about his voice, and I said nothing,
nodding instead. Ask me about his face and I would
tell you about the sharp crease of brow, thin lips

that turned bloodless when angry. How long has it
been? Who would know? Ten years this April, in fact.
I stop writing and lean back in my chair, the burden

of the sun outside my shuttered windows. Remind me
again why we fear being alone. This is my relief.
They said to let it come naturally, so I sit at my desk,

let my mind wander where the boats rock gently
on a cold lake, the moon a talisman I will never lose.
Let time be a road, the trees as the hours that pass.

I would trace the limbs, the precision of the shadows.
I would define the space between the tangible and
the mystery. The two of us could be as it was before,

the end in the distance, where the lines converge
under clouds over the mountain. You would be there,
waiting patiently, arms crossed over your chest. For
every embrace, I dreamed I was you, and you were me.


In a Foreign Land

I love waking up in a sweat—
my clothes drenched, the ceiling fan
spinning in a whoosh blurring
my eyes. The door is closed,
but I hear sounds on the other side.
I struggle to regain composure,
and this is what I love—
cold nights causing me to shiver,
details of the window and
how the blinds slice the light
into even rows. Once you
get close enough to a dream
reality offers no shade
in our secret forests, the ghosts
now free to exist
as breath and bone. In the mind
we walk between the trees,
the majestic tips of our fingers
reaching for something familiar,
like blood that scabs
into a shape, like the skin
that covers our eyes. We are not
who we seem to be. We are
strangers, and to believe
in the body’s spirit is useful for
when I wrap around my shoulders
a quilt crocheted by my mother
and listen at the window
for the bird calls just before dawn.

JOSH MAHLER lives and writes in Virginia. His poems have appeared or are forthcoming in The Southern Poetry Anthology, Vol. IX: Virginia, Texas Review Press, South Dakota Review, The Louisville Review, The Adirondack Review, The Carolina Quarterly, The Comstock Review, Bodega, Twelve Mile Review, Puerto del Sol, and elsewhere.