the curious dream of the confirmed atheist


I recollect the whole thing as clearly

As if I had awoke with the alarm, fully awake and engaged.

I am on a gurney being wheeled slowly (for it is clear to me

That hustle and bustle is no longer a concern of mine)

Down a hospital hallway, which is silent

Except for the squeak and bump of my carriage’s wheels

As it crosses from tile to tile, and the sheet which covers me

Is seemingly made of gauze, for I can, as I pass from one to the next,

See clearly inside each of the rooms,

The tableaus being what you might expect in such a place:

A young man and small child fluttering about a mother and her newborn,

A middle-aged woman reading aloud (but softly, almost mechanically)

To an ancient and clearly unheeding man,

Another woman, aged and frail to the point of being insubstantial,

Dabbing at her eyes with a frayed, damp tissue,

Exiting a room as an orderly closes the blinds.

At this point the scenes become incongruous, almost surreal,

As if another director has suddenly assumed control of the film;

There is a room where a Marlowe-esque priest,

All harlequin-colored outfit and codpiece-clad,

Bumbles drunkenly about the room,

Banging his censer against the walls as he speaks in tongues,

But just as suddenly the settings become gentle, pastoral.

In one room there are no walls at all,

Only a quiet valley with dirt roads and small streams

And the sound, disembodied but palpable and oddly familiar,

Of bells tolling faintly and melodiously in the distance,

While in the next there is nothing save

A young woman with angels bending over her.

At this point, I have clearly reached my final destination,

And I expect to find a chilly and spartan space,

Harshly lit and sparsely furnished with chairs and cold chambers,

So I am caught unawares for what awaits through the doors:

Light, just light making everything below it a toy world.

The dream abruptly ends, as they are wont to do,

But it seems I found it oddly comforting,

And it is that which makes me so apprehensive.



(This is for the Friday challenge at Rare Toads; the lines beginning “A young woman…” and “Light, just light..” are taken from Edgar Lee Masters’ “Dippold The Optician”. As an aside, if you ain’t readin’ Masters, you ain’t readin’)



5 thoughts on “the curious dream of the confirmed atheist

  1. Yes the close is brilliant, but what a journey! I love the glimpses offered through the doors: the codpiece wearing priest, the meadow, the angel visitation.. This is Bosch-esque, a vision conceived on the brink of death.

  2. Quite the undertaking for the Friday challenge and beautifully executed. I love the line about hustle and bustle no longer applying….how unimportant the important things become when put to the task. I really liked this, great job.

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