Lately my eyes have been catching spaces
Between trees on the street, weights
Racked at the gym, eyelets on a shoe,
Myself and other people. Music happens
In the space between notes, the pauses
Between words, making sense of sound.
As children we’re told to be wary, if not
Fearful of strangers, the unknown quantity,
Untrustworthy and so much taller than we are.
Without being told, we fear death, the ultimate
Stranger. But oddly, we rarely fear sleep
Or the strange gnomes in our brain who file
Away our experiences, play dreams on the screen
Of the mind. We embrace sleep, groggy, watch
The 5-4-3-2-1- as the film counts down.
Sometimes the dream explodes behind our eyes.
Sometimes it starts more like a whisper or
A breath of spring morning air. Sometimes
The strangers in our dreams alarm us,
Not by threatening but by offering us too much
Familiarity, like unasked-for candy. There is
A lesson here. Sometimes they stand apart,
Waiting for us to notice them. We wake,
Hopeful. The future, promising. Sometimes
By day we enter spaces like our dreams,
Peopled by both kinds of strangers. Then
The game is to identify which is which.
Take this woman, who saunters into a room
Of strangers milling around looking awkward,
Engages the most uncomfortable, makes her smile:
Not candy, but kindness. Then she moves on.
Faces turn in her direction like flowers
Following the movement of the sun, gathering
Warmth and light. Another time when I see her,
I offer her a purple flower. She tucks it
Behind her ear and turns away. The space
Between us fills with other strangers. This
Morning on the subway, in between every two
Strangers is another stranger, and all of them
Looking bored, tired or angry. I find myself
Smiling for no reason, passing the light along.
Now the spaces in my dreams are full of flowers.