Endowed in perpetuity by the Glenna Luschei Fund for Excellence

Theater of Dreams


Theater of Dreams

Enid Shomer

Let objects stand for people. Talk only to possessions,
not those who possess you.
- Instructions for a Jungian exercise

The dream begins in her childhood, deep
in the basement of the house. Now we each take a role.
It's the objects that speak in this drama from sleep:

one person plays the cement floor, another the heap
of clutter that stands for her father—mostly old tools.
The dream begins in her childhood, deep

in her father's arms. She remembers the shrugged-off hope
in his shoulders, his body stiff as his levels and rules.
It's the objects that speak. In this drama from sleep

the floor says I'm turning to marble when she weeps.
The thrown shoe, the shouting, the strap hung on a nail—
the dream begins in her childhood. Deep

enough now, says the floor, I'm shining with grief.
She hugs herself, sensing her bones like braille.
It's the objects that speak in this drama. From sleep

you spin a thousand selves, says the clutter, to keep
the promises he broke
. Now unwind the spool
of dreams. Begin in childhood, deep
in the objects that speak in this drama. From sleep.

Prairie Schooner, Vol. 71, No. 3 (Fall 1997), p. 140


Author Photo of Enid Shomer

Enid Shomer’s seventh book, the novel The Twelve Rooms of the Nile (Simon & Schuster), was chosen by NPR as one of the top six historical novels of 2012. She won the Iowa Fiction Prize for her first collection of stories, Imaginary Men, and the Florida Gold Medal for her second, Tourist Season, which was selected for Barnes & Noble’s “Discover Great New Writers” series. She is also the author of four books of poetry, and has won two NEA and three State of Florida Fellowships in poetry. Her work has appeared in The New Yorker, The Atlantic, Paris Review, and many other publications. As Visiting Writer, she has taught at the University of Arkansas, Florida State University, and the Ohio State University among others. She has edited the University of Arkansas Poetry Series since 2002. Shomer lives in Tampa, Florida.