Robin Behn

In My Thorn Dream | In my Path Dream
January 25, 2018 Behn Robin

In My Thorn Dream


The thing is the delicacy
of the interwoven twig-vest
hovering, not quite touching,
but breathing a little when I breathe as
wreath and wraithe prickle and twitch
inside in the organ
the dream drinks its milk from and

how out there in the forest but still inside the dream the
cyclone dips its eggbeater down and leaves
the shivering carpet of twigs: yes, that is the birth of it, the place the
woodsman, the woods-being, stands, weaving
ferocious vestments
while the twigs are still hot…

Outer, inner.
A thing, some Thing
I must do or
be sure not to.

I am standing very still
in my vest of thorns.
I don’t think you can touch me yet.
But, someone with salve, now.
But, someone with bandages.
Whether I too will be needed…

I seemed, until this, to be on my way—



In my Path Dream

Cinque Terre, Italy, a few years after the landslide


Hello, lofty selves, still gliding
velvet feet along this outcrop’s famous footpath
the landslide had its way with!

And hi!, Swiss Spiderman-ish engineers and mountaineers!
Your chain-link doilies, pinioned, keeping overhead overhead,
your lonely mutant soccer net daring boulders to bowl,
your helicoptered tonnage of bags of dry cement and hulking, wobbly water blocks,
your cantilevered Band-aids that straddle, once again,
the picturesque abyss!

Your toils mean we got to snap
some memorable brain pictures
so now, in sleep, we sweat again, still dreamily traversing
from one pastel sun-blanched villa-toffee-clump wedged into a cliff
to the next pastel sun-blanched villa-toffee-clump wedged into the next cliff
all daggering down to the sea—

Behind us, mid-trek, -mirage,
the town we slept etc. in.
Ahead’s the next one up the coast where
–as it was foretold in the book—lunch exists!

It’s our turn for life!
Our go at ankle-torque!
At asthma and miasma of
ancient trail of head-size rocks
whose eerie faces have the smooth

complexion of a face transplant from some sun-beaten
comrade who laid them one by jagged one,
a lifetime to advance the cause some feet toward the
next hamlet so his great, no, his great-great, no, his
mega-great granddaughter might,
by path, come across a slightly strange-looking lad
with vibrantly variant genes,

the thing about keeping on being being the thing
less traveled by, but still, in dream/life, traveled toward, by
her, him, them, us…

that, and how we hold those
lovers/builders/fixers in our minds,
which, in the dream, we know about—
both our minds and the minds they hold—
Are they in your mermaid purse?

like dried black skate eggs’ cases
touching thready arms
at their own brittle peril in a jar
we have carried all this way because it might be,
it might, it might represent—Are they? Are they?
we might let it be for us one fragile, hopeful—Are they?—mind
we take turns with from shoulders to shoulders
like the backpack,
like big gear,
like the idea itself of the idea itself…

The things we have done and will do
on either end of the kingdom of our dream
are very busy being clouds that mount, that fall apart.
Cliffward, toy trains could spirit-tunnel us away.
Seaward, the toy boats that beat us to our town
know all ye need to know,
writing constant arrowheads on waves.




Robin Behn’s fifth book of poems, Quarry Cross, will be out in spring 2018 from Plume Editions/MadHat Press, and her edited volume for young writers, Once Upon a Time in the Twenty-first Century: Unexpected Exercises in Creative Writing, will be out from the University of Alabama Press. She teaches in the MFA Program at the University of Alabama and lives in Birmingham.