The Highest Hill

Most people have alarming dreams,
exotic, erotic even - reflections
of their psyches, ids hidden
in cupboards, honey comforters,
mental chesterfields.

Bunches of grapes, headlong plunges,
schoolrooms rioting with fire,
parents in mortar-boards (sometimes
naked), the colour of drowning,
frights like that.

But my dreams are B-movies,
Panzers surrounding the old palace,
and still we slip through the cordon,
packing pistols, flinting chins,
reaching our credits.

They're Technicolor, too, that raw
red which you get with velvet,
everything suspiciously heightened
as if freshly unloaded, damp,
from a tumble drier.

Recently there's been a development.
Grace Kelly and Doris Day have
turned up, squabbling, and doing
duets about me to my face:
B-musicals now.

I have a way with Doris, although
it makes her pout like Mitzi Gaynor.
I am firmly of the opinion...
just that, firmly, opinion.
Wins Doris over.

Grace is more delectable, distant,
but I have her number, and I
dial it like fine bone china, flirt
furiously with the receiver, let her
get me herself.

Here's Grace in High Society,
crooning True Love into my stomach,
doesn't mind that I'm overweight,
presses me, hands like prayers,
to be faithful.

Doris kicks harder. Her boots
dust down the alleyways, where once
I held off bad injuns at gunpoint,
arrows through my stetson
like a wild weather-vane.

But I like Doris better, I'd better
be honest about it. Whenever I
come round in the morning,
she's usually had the upper hand,
cupping my flinty chin.

It's not easy, this dreaming.
Freud would have thrown his spectacles up,
rooting vainly for some little
clue to my personality. I'm
maybe B-type.

Each night I slug it out.
Why can't I be normal? I wish
The Lone Ranger, Victor Mature, the
throng of Ben Hur extras would let me
have my problems back.

I've had my repressions, had them
repressed, and I don't know why.
Unfair. Other people are allowed their
hang-ups and angst, but my
mental case is empty.

Never mind. At least sleep's predictable
when the seventh cavalry rush in,
dispensing with Rommel and Genghis,
one grenade only - one always makes it
for the main show.

And this latest jink, Grace and Doris
jostling me, why should I worry?
The worst of it is just paradox,
waking into a truly wonderful sunset
every morning.

So I'll stick with those cheerful features
plastering my six o'clock pillow,
Doris in cowboy boots and bangs.
It's bedtime. My secret dream's
no secret any more.


From Robinson Crusoe's Bank Holiday Monday