“Dreaming” by Jane Beal

In the summertime, I sleep
with my bedroom windows open.

Early this morning, the scrub jay
perched in the pomelo tree
just outside my screens
and began squawking – an avian alarm clock –
so that I was awakened from my dream.

My dream had been of yellow mustard flowers
and tall, thin sprigs of lavender blossoms –

of me, in Denver, sitting in an auditorium
watching an old friend walk across a stage,
graduating with his highest degree,
and turning back to wave at his professor
in a flirtatious way.

Later, I was walking into his university building,
which was also, somehow, mine –

and I could hear him, his voice, as he
was talking in a group of friends,
and I didn’t dare to come up to him,
where he was, to talk with him, or be with him,
but instead sat down in a nearby classroom, still listening.

I know his voice so well, and I knew it
in my dream better than any bird-call.

Jane Beal
from Uncaged (in progress)


Comment: When I woke, the feeling in my heart was sorrow — from listening, without the ability or freedom to speak — like Philomela. I knew my dream was prompted not by my old friend, but symbolized by him, in response new rules in a new friendship. I wish that being free was as simple as opening the little wire door to the birdcage, but birds often go back to cages when they’ve been raised in them. Only wild birds, that have been captured, fly away from cages as soon as the door is open — and never come back. God, please make my heart the wild bird it was first destined to be, free, and not trapped in an endless sense of loss.


postscript: Different meanings are attributed to different flowers. One source says mustard flowers stand for intelligence and pain. Another source says they stand for “fertility, protection, and mental awareness.” In the Bible, of course, a mustard seed growing into its largest and most beautiful state represents the kingdom of God. Supposedly, lavender can stand for “constancy,” but also for “distrust, suspicion, failure, and refusal.” It calms children — it calms anyone.

As a midwife, I regularly recommend lavender to mothers because of its calming effects and healing properties.



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