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Alberta Clipper 3/17/15: "Dream: Catching the Air" by Carolyn Kreiter-Kurylo

On March 17, 1988—a fairly warm day for Lincoln, NE reaching a high of 43 degrees—Carolyn Kreiter-Kurylo published her first poem in the Prairie Schooner Spring issue titled “Dream: Catching the Air.” In a poem of memories revived while dreaming, Kreiter-Kurylo fondly recalls how “Always before bed, / you read Light In August/ or Les Miserables.

It was on this same day over in Europe that the world-renowned Les Miserables premiered its first full West End/ Broadway production at the Det Norske Teatret in Oslo, Norway. A production based on the novel written by French poet and novelist Victor Hugo, the play focuses on several characters’ lives, including Jean Valijean, a man working for redemption.

What a stirring, haunting bed-time story!—Alexandria Douglas

Carolyn Kreiter-Kurylo
Dream: Catching the Air

1.

I watch them lower you.
Each time in the night’s
thin hour, you tremble.
Your face, its gaze
once cold under lamplight,
struggles out of a seizure.
You raise your mouth
and breathe back.

Staying long in my dream,
you breathe air
into the mouth laboring
over yours.
Out of a tremor,
you move, catching
air on your tongue
as if you might fill
your lungs.

2.

This morning I place iris
on the bedstand, watch
them turn velvet
as first light floods
your room. Our summers
were life this: opening
windows to mountains,
honeysuckle reaching us
through mist. Afternoons
we wrote on the porch
swing. Always before bed,
you read Light in August
or Les Miserables.
“What one man wont do
to another,” you said resting
your head on the bedpost,
your voice steady.
Now each time you speak
To me in a dream, I wake,
my heart opening, and write
down your words.

3.

For years I go on recoding.
This evening shadows
around me flicker, the house
dark. A candle illumines
your picture as a young
girl lying in a bed
of clover. Were you
dreaming, keeping
your mother alive
in sleep? I lean
my head against a chair’s
back and doze off.
In a dream you rise
from the clover. Running
toward you, I extend
my arms, taking you in.
Again a seizure pulls
you down. You struggle
for air while moonlight
pours across the floor.
I wake wondering,
How long can we keep
the dead alive this way?
Until the skies darken,
The stars seem to say.
All these years you have
done it so well.

Prairie Schooner, Vol. 62, No. 1 (Spring 1988)


The Alberta Clipper is a biweekly gust of history—brushing the dust off of a poem from our archives and situating it in the current events and local Nebraskan weather reports of days gone by. Explore the Alberta Clipper archives here.

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