Dream as Michelle Parkerson

Artefact: Article, ‘The Jewel Box: An Interracial Drag Review’, written by Jim Marks, The Advocate, 18 February issue, 1986.
Michelle, asleep
Can feel tears flooding up and over
Pushing through her closed eyelids
Crashing down her hot cheeks
Emotions surging
Unsure of the root

In the dream she is walking
With a stranger
Through a neighbouring city
Not D.C.
Could be Annapolis
Could it?
Fredericksburg, Fairfax?

Not Essex either
Though this stranger reminds her of Essex, somehow
Able to conjure with their fingers
Their imagination
But also her queer
Betty and Stormé and
Audre queer
And recently divorced
So in the not D.C. night air
There is some frisson
That in another slip of worlds could pull them in close for a kiss
In and up to a half-packed apartment
To a sheetless, stripped bed
But here, out on the street
They deep-talk
The last place closed
They wander
What is this place?
New constructions climbing up squat mountains
Curves and glass and
Grand architecture resembling an apple
A bite taken out of it
Ski lifts and cable lines and
Swimming pools
The sea, somewhere
A harbour
The stranger
Glasses and bleached hair and
Beautiful braids
Thin, articulate fingers
Makes a phone call
Checking that they are on the right, high path
Turning around suddenly, unsure
Calling their ex
Michelle wonders quietly
Not wanting to seem too curious
Surprised at the freshness of the divorce
Of the link that still sews the stranger to their lost life
Former wife
That there is no one else in this role of assistance
The instinct to phone in the early hours
Out in the city and vulnerable and
Memory faltering
Drawing the stranger back to the one person they can no longer live with

Michelle waits patiently
Not in a hurry to go, be
Anywhere else in this complex fabrication
It turns out to be the correct street, already
They take a few steps
This is another swimming pool, too
The stranger smiles, points up the slope
Holds up a photograph of the self-same view
It’s paper, glossy
Four by six
(This is fourteen years before the first telephone can capture its first image
Michelle’s dream
Paying heed to chronology
Which is strange when thought about in too much detail
Future Michelle still alive in the world of pixels and smartphones)
I take the same photograph every day
Declares the stranger
Relieved now that they can see where they are, once more
Their surroundings swivel back into sharp focus
A compass lining up
Their usual path around the towers, condominiums
Magnetic again
The two talk about drinking
About being sober
The stranger is three or four drinks in
Busy talk that slips, sometimes
Words rolling too fast
Blurring at the edges
Michelle’s head is clear
No beers for the last two years
Not so much anything in that time
Fewer friends, fewer occasions, she thinks
Not a decision, just a shift that arrived
They talk about their work
How the stranger makes 
Impressive, complex pictures
Three dimensional spaces that slide and glitter and
About what Michelle does, too
She feels goofy, explaining
All of her projects are back some years
She’s on a different path
Forked away from this stranger
Not fruiting yet
No, no, not true
Not having had fruit like this stranger
Ripe and fat and
Piled up in crystal
But, yes, fruit
Plums from the garden
For example
Dusty ones, cool, in the refrigerator
Small tomatoes
From the pot that sits on the flagstones
Tomato being a fruit, too
Michelle remembers to herself
Knowing where she is, at last
Takes the stranger’s hand a moment
Lets go